Statistics show that one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime; 220,000 men are diagnosed every year in the United States alone. That’s why it is critical for men to be well-versed on the disease’s symptoms and treatment options.
What may be even more important is the role men’s wives play in ensuring that men are regularly screened. It is common knowledge that men aren’t always the best at taking care of and managing their health. It seems that men have every excuse in the book for ignoring regular doctor visits. But this is where a man’s wife plays a crucial role. Generally speaking, women make sure that the men in their lives go to the doctor. And that’s why it is important for them to be knowledgeable about prostate cancer, even though it is often referred to as “a man’s disease.”
What should Wives know about Prostate Cancer?
First, wives should know that prostate cancer is extremely common. Also, it is usually a slow-growing cancer, which means that symptoms oftentimes do not appear until the cancer is in more advanced stages.
Prostate cancer is also curable, and the earlier it is detected, the better the long-term chance of cure. This is why women must encourage the men in their lives to get screened annually for prostate cancer–early detection and the choice of treatment are the keys to cure of prostate cancer.
Screenings include a PSA blood test (a small amount of blood is taken and then analyzed), as well as a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The prostate is a gland that exists only in men, and sits below the bladder, adjacent to the rectum and the position of the prostate is why most men avoid prostate screenings like the plague–the doctor must press against the rectum to feel the prostate. It is admittedly not a very “fun” procedure; however, a few seconds of discomfort are certainly worth your husband’s life.
Many men don’t even know what the prostate is, and therefore don’t see how it could be a big problem. That’s why it is important that women learn about prostate cancer. Women who care about the welfare of their family know about this tiny gland and the big problems prostate cancer can cause.
Wives’ Guide to Prostate Cancer Symptoms:
Since the prostate sits near the bladder, symptoms of prostate cancer include many urinary difficulties, such as:
– Difficulty starting urination
– Weak urine flow
– Inability to empty the bladder completely
– Frequent nighttime urination
– Sudden urges to urinate
Recognizing these symptoms is very important for you and your husband. He may think that his frequent urination is due to “middle/old age” and may dismiss his symptoms as just that. You should know that these symptoms can be very serious.
It is much more common for a man who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer to not have any symptoms at all. In fact, if a man does have these symptoms, more likely than not, his prostate cancer has progressed. This further illustrates why it is critical for a man to be screened annually–remember, early detection and the choice of treatment are the two biggest factors in being cured of this disease.
Prostate Cancer Diagnosis:
Prostate cancer, since it is so often present in men, is usually screened for in physical exams for men age 50 and older. But men in their 40s can also get prostate cancer, so don’t think your husband’s age necessarily precludes him from developing this disease. In fact, African-American men, and men that have a family history of prostate cancer should begin their annual screenings at age 40.
The PSA blood test and the DRE will determine whether a man requires additional testing. A man is officially diagnosed with prostate cancer after a biopsy is conducted.
If your husband is diagnosed with prostate cancer, more than anything, you need to be his support and help him make an informed decision about how he should be treated for his prostate cancer. Research all the available treatment options and then go and consult with two, three, four, or more physicians who offer those different options, until you and your husband are both confident and comfortable with your decision. Do not make a snap decision about the course of treatment; many of the options out there carry risks of permanent side effects, including impotence and incontinence. A cancer diagnosis is scary for everyone, and men especially may balk at the idea of prostate cancer surgery and other treatments due to these fears of the side effects.
What you should know is that there are a variety of prostate cancer treatments available that can be very effective.
Unfortunately, the prospect of impotence and erectile dysfunction due to removal of the prostate cancer lead some men to decide to live with, and ultimately die from, prostate cancer. However, today’s treatment options are leaps and bounds more sophisticated than those your husband may remember. No longer is prostate cancer a sentence to sexual issues.
As a woman, you are more likely to pay attention to and take care of your husband’s health. With prostate cancer being such a prevalent issue for men, you should be paying special attention to your husband’s health to ensure prostate cancer will not be a devastating diagnosis.