Knowledge is power, and our urology team at Mission Health wants you to be as educated as you can about your prostate health so you can be empowered in your well-being. We sat down with Brian Cohen, MD, to open up the tough conversation that is easier to shy away from: different aspects of men’s health, including prostate health, bladder problems and other common issues men may experience.
Dr. Cohen shared some of the basic key steps that can help alleviate the risk of developing bladder cancer and other urological problems over time. Here are some of the key points from our conversation with Dr. Cohen:
1. What’s good for your heart is good for your urological health
While diseases like prostate or bladder cancer can be devastating, taking measures to prevent them can be an empowering step in your lifelong health. Eating right, exercising and not smoking can contribute to a healthy prostate. “Anything that is good for your heart is typically good for the urologic system as well,” Dr. Cohen said.
Dr. Cohen explained that his patients want to know how they can take care of themselves and minimize their risk of issues or cancers. “Patients ask us a lot of the time ‘what can I do for my prostate, what can I do for my bladder, what can I do that is good for my kidneys,’” Dr. Cohen said. Practicing what’s called “total wellness” can help you avoid issues with your body’s urological functions.
2. Know your risk
The American Urological Association (AUA) suggests that at ages 55 to 75 is when men are at risk of developing issues and should get screened and become more aware of their prostate and urologic health. Some of the risk factors of developing prostate cancer or other urological issues include race or whether there is a family history of prostate cancer.
3. Symptoms and types of urological conditions to get checked out
Don’t you hate when you have to get up and pee constantly throughout the night? You could have nocturia, which is the excessive drive to urinate frequently during the night. This can be extremely disruptive to your sleep pattern, which can lead to additional health problems.
Another common condition men experience is lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), which occurs when men have an enlarged prostate and experience difficulty with passing urine or feel the need to “strain” in order to urinate.
Another condition known as “hematuria” occurs when urine contains trace amounts of blood. There are two different types. “Gross hematuria is when someone passes urine and is visibly able to see blood in the toilet bowl,” Dr. Cohen said. In contrast, microscopic hematuria is only detectable within a laboratory since the traces of blood are much smaller than with gross hematuria.
4. Screenings save lives
Dr. Cohen emphasized the importance of annual screenings, which is one of the best ways to catch things early. The blood test, prostate specific antigen (PSA), helps detect a man’s risk for prostate cancer. Evidence shows that PSA screenings in men ages 55-69 save lives. If the screening, typically either a prostate check or urinalysis, indicates any problems or concerns, your doctor will refer you to a urologist for further evaluation and personalization in your care.
So, men – eat your fruits and veggies, go on that walk, run or swim and put that cigarette out (if it applies) and put your prostate and urological health first.
If you have concerns about your prostate or urological health, talk to your primary care provider or get a screening.
Brian Cohen, MD, MPH, is a board-certified urologist at Mission Urology in Asheville. He sees both men and women with incontinence, problems passing urine and other urologic disorders.