Guest Post: Men’s Health – Caribbean Princess

I would like to introduce you to Caribbean Princess a public health doctor and epidemiologist currently living in the UK. I was very pleased to accept her offer of a Philofaxy ‘All Stars’ Guest Post for my blog, which as you know tends to be very ‘tech-centric’.

CP, as she is affectionately known within the Philofaxy circles writes on her own blog Musings of a Caribbean Princess, which I recommend you visit, it’s not all hand bags and Filofax organisers.

Caribbean PrincessLet’s face it. Heath is important. We all want to be in good health. Yet we know that men are least likely to see a doctor even when they are worried about their health. A few years ago this became personal. My dear father was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it changed my world. Here was someone with two medical offspring, (myself and my younger brother), who had been a Biology teacher and who knew all about the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. But he said nothing to any of us, not me or my mum or even my brother. He kept it quiet. And he was lucky that his silence did not end up killing him. So for this post, I want to just share a brief overview of prostate cancer (and other prostate problems) and the red flags that you should be on the lookout for, those things that should indicate that you NEED TO SEE YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY.

So what is the prostate?

The prostate is a small, walnut sized organ, found below the bladder and surrounding the urethra (tube that carries urine away from the bladder). Its function is to make a fluid that becomes part of semen (which is the fluid that contains sperm).

There are many different types of prostate problems which can all present with similar signs and symptoms. Therefore having these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. However it should indicate to you that you should visit your doctor for further tests and clarification.

Signs of prostate problems include:

  • Frequent urge to urinate (referred to frequency)
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in urinating or inability to urinate
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Reduced flow when urinating
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back

Types of Prostate problems include

  1. Prostatitis- This may be acute or chronic. Acute prostatitis almost always results from an infection, usually from bacteria. The person will suffer with fever, chills, lower back pain and difficulty in urinating. Antibiotics will help clear the infection. Chronic prostatitis refers to when the infection keeps on coming back again and again although sometimes it occurs without infection. It is more difficult to manage although antibiotics can also help. In a lot of cases, the person has no symptoms or symptoms are less severe than with the acute type.
  2. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). This simply means that the prostate is enlarged and is common in older men. A rectal examination can be used to diagnose this. BPH does not lead to cancer.
  3. Prostate cancer. This is one of the most common cancers in men and is more common in black men. There is still a lot of controversy about whether or not men should be screened for prostate cancer due to the lack of an effective screening test. In the early stages, it can cause no symptoms before leading to the symptoms I described earlier. It is important therefore for you to see your doctor if you have these symptoms especially if you have any risk factors for the disease (family history, African American/ Caribbean descent).

I hope you have found this information useful. Please remember that it is always better to deal with problems sooner than later. My Dad was lucky but no one should play Russian roulette with their health.

Take care

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