At your annual physical, it’s likely your physician is inspecting everything from blood pressure to body mass index (BMI) to ensure you are living your healthiest life.
But are you keeping an eye on your urological health?
Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among American men, with one in 10 encountering some form of the disease during their lifetime. Bladder cancer, another widespread epidemic, takes the lives of more women than cervical cancer and yet it seems to get far less attention in the media.
Preventive care pays, and even if you are having no symptoms of disease, regular screenings by a urologist can help ensure good health.
The male reproductive gland known as the prostate can increase in size as a man gets older. While this occurrence is completely normal, your urologist should conduct periodic prostate exams. The most common type is a digital rectal exam (DRE), where your doctor or nurse will insert a finger into the rectum to determine if deformities are present in the prostate. Firmness, size, texture, lumps, or pain due to touch are all factors your physician will carefully note.
Urology offices such as Urologic Surgeons of Arizona offer customized blood tests, such as 4Kscore® – a precise blood test that determines a patient’s susceptibility to develop aggressive prostate cancer. Furthermore, it will indicate whether there is a need for biopsy.
Both healthy and abnormal prostates may contain prostate-specific antigen proteins (PSAs) – however, higher levels of these cells have a direct link to prostate cancer. Men with a PSA level from 4 to 10 possess a higher-than-normal risk of developing the disease. So, this type of blood testing is highly beneficial for early diagnosis and treatment.
Prostate cancer isn’t the only disease your urologist can test for. They can also diagnose and treat bladder, kidney, and testicular cancers.
Hematuria (the presence of blood in the urine) is one of the initial signs of bladder cancer. However, it’s often dismissed as a simple infection. Urine tests can help determine whether a patient has a benign (noncancerous) tumor, an infection, or another condition that requires greater attention. However, these tests are not without their limitations and sometimes produce false positives.
A more reliable method of diagnosing bladder cancer is known as cystoscopy, a quick and easy procedure that involves the use of a small camera lens to view potential threats in the lining of the bladder.
Unlike prostate cancer, testicular cancer is rare. It’s also very treatable. Just as a woman has regular breast exams during an annual gynecological checkup, and intermittently conducts self-exams at home, a man should conduct self-exams of their testes. If you notice lumps, swelling, pain, dull aching, enlarged lymph nodes, trouble breathing, or a buildup of fluid in the scrotum, seek the advice of a urologist as soon as possible.
Don’t delay screening for fear of what you might find. Reputable organizations such as the National Institutes of Health have determined that early screening for cancer is the best way to reduce mortality.
If you would like to learn more about urological cancers, or make an appointment for a screening, contact Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060 today.