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Health Buzz: Make Peace with Your Prostate

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No man is exempt from an enlarging prostate. Dr. Paul Pietrow of Hudson Valley Urology maintains that “benign growth of the prostate is inevitable for every man.” And while this innocuous growth can be responsible for a range of urinary symptoms (i.e., feeling the need to urinate more frequently/urgently, doing so with discomfort), there is generally no cause for concern: These symptoms reflect what Pietrow calls “run-of-the-mill” benign diseases typically associated with the aging prostate—whether men experience these symptoms or not varies highly from one individual to the next. But even a malignancy may not be cause for panic: Autopsies have revealed that the majority of men have prostate cancer by age 90, though it may not have affected their lives in a disruptive way. Because symptoms alone cannot be relied upon to determine who may or may not have a treatable prostate cancer, screening and physical exams are important. Doctors generally recommend screening for prostate cancer, by exam or PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing, when a man has reached 50 years of age (or 40, if a man is African American or if there is prostate cancer in his family history). The disease is often slow to develop, and some men are more likely to suffer other medical conditions before the cancer threatens the system. With this in mind, prostate cancer treatments are tailored to a man’s health and life expectancy. While there may not be much one can do to prevent prostate cancer, it is important to eat well and take good care. As Dr. Pietrow advises, “All of the things we tell you about keeping your heart healthy also have some utility to keeping your prostate healthy as well.”

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