Posts Tagged ‘prostate’

Your Prostate Biopsy Report

June 8, 2019

Andrew Siegel MD   6/8/19

Today’s entry will enable you to make sense of the prostate biopsy report, which can be a source of confusion for patients.

Prostate Histology (the study of the microscopic structure of tissues) in 30-seconds   

The prostate gland is divided into anatomical subdivisions known as lobes. It is organized like a tree with a major trunk draining each lobe, each trunk served by many ducts which progressively branch out into smaller and smaller ducts. At the end of each duct is an acinus (Latin, meaning berry), analogous to a leaf at the end of a tree branch. Each acinus is lined by cells that secrete prostate fluid, a nutrient vehicle for sperm that is an important component of semen. Each acinus is surrounded by a basement membrane that is a barrier layer that separates the secretory cells from surrounding structures.

ducts and acini from AUA AUAnet.org

Microscopic view of healthy prostate ducts and acini (plural of acinus); image from AUAnet.org

 

Pathologists are the doctors that study biopsies under the microscope and make the diagnosis of cancer.  By staining tiny fragments of tissue cut in slices thinner than a hair, elements of the cell are highlighted that would not normally be apparent, identifying cancer.

What are the possible outcomes of the prostate biopsy?

There are four possibilities:

  • Benign prostate tissue
  • HGPIN (High Grade Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia)
  • ASAP (Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation)
  • Prostate Cancer

What is benign prostate tissue?

This is a biopsy report indicative of healthy prostate tissue, with no evidence of cancer or pre-cancer.  This is the kind of report that urologists are delighted to convey to patients.

What is HGPIN?

HGPIN is an acronym for “High Grade Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia.” HGPIN occurs in 0.6 – 24% of biopsies. It is a microscopic abnormality marked by an abnormal appearance and proliferation of cells within ducts and acini, but the abnormal cells do not extend beyond the basement membrane to the surrounding parts of the prostate (as occurs with prostate cancer). HGPIN is considered a pre-malignant precursor lesion to prostate cancer.

Current recommendations for men who are found to have one site of HGPIN (uni-focal HGPIN) are to follow-up as one would follow for a benign biopsy, with annual digital rectal exam and PSA.  However, if there are multiple biopsies indicating HGPIN (multifocal HGPIN), a more vigilant follow-up may be necessary, particularly if the PSA is elevated, accelerated or if there is ASAP (see below) found adjacent to the HGPIN. Repeat biopsy is a consideration, with sampling of identified HGPIN areas and adjacent sites. The more cores containing HGPIN on an initial prostate biopsy, the greater the likelihood of cancer on subsequent biopsies. The overall risk for prostate cancer following the diagnosis of multifocal HGPIN is about 25%.

What is ASAP?

ASAP is an acronym for “Atypical Small Acinar Proliferation.” ASAP occurs in 5 – 20% of biopsies. It is a microscopic abnormality marked by a collection of prostate acini that are suspicious but not diagnostic for prostate cancer, falling below the diagnostic “threshold.” The risk for cancer following the diagnosis of ASAP on re-biopsy is 40-50%. It is recommended that men with ASAP should undergo re-biopsy within 3 to 6 months, with sampling of identified areas and adjacent sites.

What is cancer?

All cancers begin with a cell that goes rogue during its replication—a cell gone wild—reproducing and proliferating endlessly and creating a mass of identical cells. This process is often caused by a single mutation.  Cancer is defined as the uncontrolled and disorganized growth of abnormal cells, as opposed to the controlled and organized means of replacing old cells after they become non-functional. Whereas normal cells grow, divide and die in an orderly fashion, cancer cells continue to grow, divide and form new abnormal cells.

Normal cells become cancer cells (malignant cells) when permanent such mutations in the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence of a gene transform them into a growing and destructive version of their former selves. These abnormal cells can then divide and proliferate aberrantly and without control. Although damaged DNA can be inherited, it is much more common for DNA damage to occur by exposure to environmental toxins or from random cellular events.  Under normal circumstances, the body repairs damaged DNA, but with cancer cells the damaged DNA is unable to be repaired.

As cancer cells grow they form a mass of cells (1 cubic centimeter of cancer consists of about 100 million cells) and the properties of the mutated cells allow them to encroach upon, invade and damage neighboring tissues. They can also break off from their site of origin via blood and lymphatic vessels and travel to and invade remote organs including lymph glands, liver, bone and brain, a situation known as metastasis.

Prostate cancer is a microscopic abnormality marked by an abnormal appearance and proliferation of cells within prostate ducts and acini (plural of acinus) that have broken through the basement membrane barrier to involve the deeper tissues of the prostate. The appearance of prostate cancer cells and their architectural patterns of growth differ from normal cells in ways that enable the pathologist to recognize and diagnose the biopsy as cancer. The degree to which these tissues demonstrate malignancy allows the pathologist to assign a grade to the cancerous tissue. The higher the grade, the more profound the malignant changes.

If the prostate biopsy demonstrates prostate cancer, the pathologist will provide a detailed report indicating the following:

  • Number of cores showing cancer
  • Percent of cancer involvement in each core
  • Location of the cores with cancer
  • Gleason score (the pathologist’s numerical quantification of aggressiveness)
  • Biopsy map

Most prostate cancers are “adenocarcinomas” (adeno- “pertaining to a gland” and carcinoma– “a cancer that develops in epithelial cells”) — a type of malignancy that originates from glandular cells. On occasion, a prostate adenocarcinoma is found to be an “intra-ductal carcinoma,” a proliferation of malignant prostate cells that fill and distend the inside space of prostatic ducts and acini, with the cells around the basement membrane largely preserved. Intra-ductal prostate cancer is often invasive, high grade, and typically has large tumor volumes.

Rarely, a prostate cancer is found to be a “small cell carcinoma,” a type of malignancy that originates from neuro-endocrine cells. This high grade and aggressive cancer accounts for only about 1% of prostate cancers and is typically diagnosed at an advanced stage, tends to progress rapidly and has a poor prognosis with an average survival of less than one year.

Coming next week: The Gleason grading system for prostate cancer.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.

The content of this entry is excerpted from his new book, PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families

4 small

Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

Prostate Cancer 20/20 on Apple iBooks

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

FINDING YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness and Longevity

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health

 

 

 

 

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Prostate Biopsy: What is Involved?

June 1, 2019

Andrew Siegel MD   6/1/19

Today’s entry takes you through the details of a prostate biopsy, which–although scary in concept–is a brief and simple office procedure that obtains valuable and potentially life-saving information.  

Hopefully, you will never need to undergo a biopsy of your prostate gland.  However, many men will ultimately require one if there is concern for, or suspicion of the possibility of prostate cancer—most commonly based upon an elevation in PSA, a PSA acceleration, or an abnormal digital rectal exam.  Other indications are to reevaluate pre-cancerous lesions, including high grade prostate intra-epithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP), monitoring patients on active surveillance, and in the evaluation of men who have received prior prostate cancer treatment and have rising PSAs.

Although digital rectal exam, PSA blood testing, and MRI are suggestive and helpful tests, it is the biopsy that is definitive. “The buck stops here” with prostate biopsy, the most conclusive diagnostic test. 

Diagram_showing_a_prostate_biopsy_CRUK_472_pl

Attribution of Image Above: Cancer Research UK uploader [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D…Note prostate, ultrasound probe and needle biopsy, translated from Polish

Prostate ultrasound is a means of prostate imaging using sound waves (like sonar on a submarine) generated by an ultrasound probe placed in the rectum. Reflected echoes create a high-resolution image of the prostate to measure the prostate volume, check for abnormalities, and precisely guide biopsies. The ultrasound image alone is not sufficient to diagnose prostate cancer without a tissue biopsy. MRI is often used prior to the biopsy to ascertain if there are any discrete abnormalities that can be targeted by the biopsy.

Preparation for ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy involves a Fleet enema the evening before the biopsy to cleanse the rectum, discontinuing blood thinner medications for a week or so prior to the procedure and starting a short course of oral antibiotics prior to the biopsy, since the biopsies are performed via the rectum.

The prostate biopsy can be performed using a local anesthetic or, alternatively, with intravenous sedation. I prefer to do the biopsies in the office setting using intravenous sedation provided by an anesthesiologist, which makes the experience much more pleasant for the patient and avoids the need for local anesthetic injections into the prostate, which can increase the risk of infection. Two antibiotics are administered intravenously immediately prior to the biopsy.

The ultrasound/biopsy is about a 10-15-minute procedure, although one needs to arrive 30 minutes prior to and remain for about 30 minutes or so after the procedure. In the knee-chest position while lying on one’s side, the ultrasound probe is gently placed into the rectum.  After obtaining imaging and volume measurements, prostate biopsies are obtained with a spring-driven needle device that is passed through the needle guide attached to the ultrasound probe. The biopsies are tiny, about the size of eyelashes.  Generally, a minimum of 12 biopsies are obtained—six from each side with two biopsies each from the apex, mid-gland and base, providing a pathological “map” of the prostate. Each biopsy is placed in a separate specimen container noting the site of the biopsy and is carefully examined by a pathologist to make a diagnosis.

If an abnormality is visualized on ultrasound—classically a hypo-echoic region (an area with less echoes than adjacent prostate tissue)— this specific area will be biopsied as well. Often, MRI is performed prior to the biopsy and any specific area of suspicion identified on MRI is matched with the ultrasound, and targeted biopsies are obtained of these areas, as well as the standard 12 mapping biopsies. MRI/ultrasound fusion-guided biopsy is a means of fusing pre-biopsy MRI prostate imaging with ultrasound-guided prostate biopsy images in real time, so that the suspicious regions seen on MRI can be precisely targeted. Fusion-guided biopsies require sophisticated hardware and software technology and the combined efforts of the radiologist, technician and urologist. Alternatively, cognitive-guided biopsies are ultrasound-guided biopsies performed while simultaneously viewing the pre-biopsy MRI images to target the regions of concern.

After the biopsy, it is important to stay well hydrated, complete the prescribed antibiotics, and to take it easy for a day or so. Urinary and/or rectal bleeding following a biopsy is common and typically resolves within a few days or so.  However, it is not uncommon to experience some blood in the semen for up to 6 weeks after the biopsy. It generally takes 7-10 days or so to receive the biopsy results.

Trans-perineal (via the anatomical region between scrotum and anus) mapping prostate biopsies are sometimes done as an alternative to the trans-rectal biopsy described above. Ultrasound is used to image the prostate and numerous mapping biopsies—typically at 5 mm intervals—are done via a perineal template. This provides a pathological map of the entire prostate, sometimes used to obtain a primary biopsy but more often used as a confirmatory biopsy that improves staging because of the number of biopsies obtained at precise anatomical locations.

Coming next week…What you will learn from the prostate biopsy report.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.

The content of this entry is excerpted from his new book, PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families

4 small

Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

Prostate Cancer 20/20 on Apple iBooks

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

FINDING YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness and Longevity

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health

 

PSA is “Worthless”: MORE FAKE NEWS!

April 27, 2019

Andrew Siegel MD  4/27/19

When I use the acronym PSA, I do not refer to “Public Service Announcement,” nor “Pacific Southwest Airlines,” nor “Polar Surface Area.”  In the context of this entry, PSA is Prostate Specific Antigen, an important blood test that helps screen for prostate cancer and monitor prostate cancer in those diagnosed with the disease.

What is PSA?

PSA is a chemical produced by the prostate gland, that functions to liquefy semen following ejaculation, aiding the transit of sperm to the egg.  A small amount of PSA filters from the prostate into the blood circulation and can be measured by a simple blood test. In general, the larger the prostate size, the higher the PSA level, since larger prostates produce more PSA. As a man ages, his PSA rises based upon the typical enlarging prostate that occurs with growing older.

How is PSA used to screen for prostate cancer?

Using PSA testing, about 90% of men have a normal PSA.  Of the 10% of men with an elevated PSA, 30% or so will have prostate cancer. In a recent study of 350,000 men with an average age of 55, median PSA was 1.0. Those with a PSA < 1.5 had a 0.5% risk of developing prostate cancer, those between 1.5-4.0 had about an 8% risk, and those > 4.0 had greater than a 10% risk.

Although it is an imperfect screening test, PSA remains the best tool currently available for detecting prostate cancer.  It should not be thought of as a stand-alone test, but rather as part of a comprehensive approach to early prostate cancer detection.  Baseline PSA testing for men in their 40s is useful for predicting the future potential for prostate cancer. The most informative use of PSA screening is when it is obtained serially, with comparison on a year-to-year basis providing much more meaningful information than a single, out-of-context PSA.

I have practiced urology in both the pre-PSA and the post-PSA era. In my early career (pre-PSA era), it was not uncommon to be called to the emergency room to consult on men who could not urinate (a condition known as urinary retention), who on digital rectal exam were found to have rock-hard prostate glands and imaging studies that showed diffuse spread of prostate cancer to their bones—metastatic prostate cancer with a grim prognosisFortunately, in the current era, that scenario occurs extremely infrequently because of PSA screening. These days, most men who present with metastatic disease are those who have not had PSA screening as part of their annual physical exams.

Is there any truth that the PSA test is worthless?

A major backlash against screening occurred a few years ago with the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) grade “D” recommendation against PSA screening and their call for total abandonment of the test. This organization counseled against the use of PSA testing in healthy men, postulating that the test does not save lives and leads to more tests and treatments that needlessly cause pain, incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Of note, there was not a single urologist on the committee. The same organization had previously advised that women in their 40s not undergo routine mammography, setting off another blaze of controversy. Uncertainty in the lay press prompted both patients and physicians to question PSA testing and recommendations for prostate biopsy.

Is there really any harm in screening?  Although there are potential side effects from prostate biopsy (although they are few and far between) and there certainly are potential side effects with treatment, there are no side effects from drawing a small amount of blood. The bottom line is that when interpreted appropriately, the PSA test provides valuable information in the diagnosis, pre-treatment staging, risk assessment and monitoring of prostate cancer patients. Marginalizing this important test does a great disservice to patients who may benefit from early prostate cancer detection. I give the USPSTF an “F” for their ill-advised recommendation, the aftermath of which is, sadly, a spike of men with higher PSA levels and more aggressive and advanced prostate cancer.

IMG_0556

Since the early 1990s, prostate cancer mortality has declined, but the aftermath of the USPSTF recommendation was a spike in prostate cancer death rates

 

mmtr13hr

The USPSTF gets the Horse’s Ass award for disservice to the well- being of mankind

Why bother screening for prostate cancer?

Excluding skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (1 in 9 lifetime risk), accounting for one-quarter of newly diagnosed cancers in males.  Prostate cancer causes absolutely no symptoms in its earliest stages and the diagnosis is made by prostate biopsy done on the basis of abnormalities in PSA levels and/or digital rectal examination. An elevated or accelerated PSA that leads to prostate biopsy and a cancer diagnosis most often detects prostate cancer in its earliest and most curable state. Early and timely intervention for those men with aggressive cancer results in high cure rates and avoids the potential for cancer progression and consequences that include painful cancer spread and death.

The upside of screening is the detection of potentially aggressive prostate cancers that can be treated and cured. The downside is the over-detection of unaggressive prostate cancers that may never prove to be problematic, but may result in unnecessary treatment with adverse consequences. The downside of not screening is the under-detection of aggressive prostate cancers, with adverse consequences from necessary treatment not being given.

Why is PSA elevated in the presence of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer cells do not make more PSA than normal prostate cells. The elevated PSA occurs because of a disruption of the cellular structure of the prostate cells. The loss of this structural barrier allows accelerated seepage of PSA from the prostate into the blood circulation.

Does an elevated PSA always mean one has prostate cancer?

There is no letter C (for cancer) in PSA.  Not all PSA elevations imply the presence of prostate cancer.  PSA is prostate organ-specific but not prostate cancer-specific. Other processes aside from cancer can cause enhanced seepage of PSA from disrupted prostate cells. These include prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate), benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, an enlargement of the prostate gland), prostate manipulation (e.g., a vigorous prostate examination, prostate biopsy, prolonged bike ride, ejaculation, etc.).

Why is PSA an imperfect screening test?

PSA screening is imperfect because of false negatives (presence of prostate cancer in men with low PSA) and false positives (absence of prostate cancer in men with high PSA). Despite its limitations, PSA testing has substantially reduced both the incidence of metastatic disease and the death rate from prostate cancer.

Who should be screened for prostate cancer?

Men age 40 and older who have a life expectancy of 10 years or greater are excellent candidates for PSA screening. Most urologists do not believe in screening or treating men who have a life expectancy of less than 10 years. This is because prostate cancer rarely causes death in the first decade after diagnosis and other competing medical issues often will do so before the prostate cancer has a chance to.  Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing process and early detection and treatment is directed at extending life well beyond the decade following diagnosis.

The age at which to stop screening needs to be individualized, since “functional” age trumps “chronological” age and there are men 75 years old and older who are in phenomenal shape, have a greater than 10-year life expectancy and should be offered screening. This population of older men may certainly benefit from the early diagnosis of aggressive prostate cancer that has the potential to destroy quantity and quality of life. However, if a man is elderly and has medical issues and a life expectancy of less than 10 years, there is little sense in screening. Another important factor is individual preference since the decision to screen should be a collaborative decision between patient and physician.

Bottom Line: PSA screening detects prostate cancer in its earliest and most curable stages, before it has a chance to spread and potentially become incurable.  PSA screening has unequivocally reduced metastases and prostate cancer death and it is recommended that it be obtained annually starting at age 40 in men who have a greater than a 10-year life expectancy.  PSA testing in men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer provides valuable information about pre-treatment staging, risk assessment and monitoring after treatment.  Although PSA has many shortcomings, when used intelligently and appropriately, it will continue to save lives.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.

The content of this entry is excerpted from his new book, PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families

4 small

Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

Prostate Cancer 20/20 on Apple iBooks

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

FINDING YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness and Longevity

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health

 

Digital Rectal Exam of the Prostate: What You Need to Know

April 13, 2019

Andrew Siegel MD   4/13/19

A DRE is not a fancy and sophisticated high-tech “digital” as opposed to “analog” test.  “Digital” does not refer to a series of data represented by zeroes and ones, but rather to the digit that is used to perform the exam, typically the index finger of the examining physician.  “Rectal” is self-explanatory, referring to the anatomical structure entered to access the prostate gland.  

finger 2

The slender digit of yours truly

Caveat Emptor:  Always scrutinize the index finger of your urologist before allowing him or her to lay a finger on you…if they are sausage-like or have long nails… 

Please note well the following fact that is misunderstood by many patients:  Although the anus and rectum are the portals to the prostate, urologists are NOT colon and rectal doctors, nor do we do colonoscopies.  That is under the domain of the gastroenterologist or colo-rectal surgeon. Same portal, different organs!  Just because you have had a colonoscopy does not imply that you have had a proper DRE of the prostate. 

A DRE is a vital part of the male physical exam in which a gloved, lubricated finger is placed gently in the rectum in order to feel the outer, accessible surface of the prostate and gain valuable information about its health.  There are many positions in which to perform the test, but I prefer the standing, leaning forward with elbows on exam table position. Another position is the lying on your side, knees bent upwards towards chest position. Both are perfectly acceptable.

True story:  When I was on  the receiving end of my first DRE, I passed out and needed to be revived with an ammonia inhalant!  It has never happened again, but I do literally “see stars” during my annual exams, which are truly humbling.  My conclusion is that it is always better to give than receive. 

After age 40, an annual DRE is highly recommended. Although it is not a particularly pleasant examination, it is brief and not painful. Urologists do not relish doing this exam any more than patients desire receiving it, but it provides essential information that cannot be derived by any other means. If the prostate has an abnormal consistency, a hardness, lump, bump, or simply feels uneven and asymmetrical, it may be a sign of prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer most commonly originates in the peripheral zone, that which is accessed via DRE.

Digital Rectal Exam

Illustration above from PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families, written by yours truly

When teaching medical students, we often use hand anatomy to explain what the prostate feels like under different circumstances.  Turn your hand so that the palm is up and make a fist. The normal prostate feels like the spongy, muscular, fleshy tissue at the base of the thumb, whereas cancer feels hard, like the knuckle of the thumb.

DRE in conjunction with the PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test is the best means of screening for prostate cancer. Detection rates for prostate cancer are highest when using both tests, followed by PSA alone, followed by DRE alone.

The pathological features of prostate cancers detected on an abnormal DRE are, in general, less favorable than those of cancers detected by a PSA elevation. In other words, if the cancer can be felt, we tend to worry about it more than if it cannot be felt, as it is often at a more advanced stage.

Fact: The PSA blood test is NOT a substitute for the DRE. Both tests provide valuable and complementary information about your prostate health.

Bottom Line:  This simple test can be life-saving, so please “man up” and endure the momentary unpleasantness.  Remember that prostate cancer is the number 1 malignancy in men (aside from skin cancer) and cancers can be discovered on the basis of an abnormal DRE, even in the face of normal PSA. 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.

The content of this entry is excerpted from his new book, PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families

4 small

Video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

Prostate Cancer 20/20 on Apple iBooks

Dr. Siegel’s other books:

FINDING YOUR OWN FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH: The Essential Guide to Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness and Longevity

PROMISCUOUS EATING— Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual, and Urinary Health

 

The Prostate Gland: Man’s Center of Gravity

February 16, 2019

Andrew Siegel MD  2/16/19

This entry can be considered to be “Prostate 101: Introductory Level.”  The prostate gland is a mysterious male reproductive organ that can be a source of curiosity, anxiety, fear and potential trouble. Since this gland is a midline organ nestled deep within the pelvis, I like to think of it as man’s “center of gravity.”  

Center_of_pressure_in_relation_to_center_of_gravity_while_off_balance

Attribution: Jasper.o.chang [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D; image unmodified; COG = center of gravity, COP = center of pressure

Where exactly is the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is located behind the pubic bone and is attached to the bladder above and the urethra below. The rectum is directly behind the prostate (which permits access for prostate exam).  The prostate is situated at the crossroads of the urinary and reproductive tracts and completely envelops the urethra, enabling its many ducts to drain into the urethra. However, this necessary anatomical relationship between the prostate and the urethra can potentially be the source of problems for the older male. With the aging process, this gland gradually enlarges and as it does so, this prostate enlargement can compress and obstruct the urethra, giving rise to bothersome urinary symptoms.  Note normal prostate on left and enlarged prostate on right in image below.

Benign_prostatic_hyperplasiaImage above, public domain, Wikipedia, illustrator unknown

What is the prostate, what purpose does it serve, and how does it function?

The prostate is a male reproductive gland that functions to produce prostate fluid, a nutrient and energy vehicle for sperm. The prostate consists of glandular and fibro-muscular tissue enclosed by a capsule of collagen, elastin and smooth muscle. The glandular tissue contains the secretory cells that produce the prostate fluid.

Semen is a “cocktail” composed of prostate fluid mixed with secretions from the seminal vesicles and sperm from the epididymides. The seminal vesicle fluid forms the bulk of the semen. The seminal vesicles and vas deferens (tubes that conduct sperm from testes to prostate) unite to form the ejaculatory ducts.

Prostate And Seminal Vesicles

At the time of sexual climax, prostate smooth muscle contractions squeeze the prostate fluid through prostate ducts at the same time as the seminal vesicles and vas deferens contractions squeeze seminal fluid and sperm through the ejaculatory ducts. These pooled secretions empty into the urethra (channel that runs from the bladder to the tip of the penis).  Rhythmic contractions of the superficial pelvic floor muscles result in the ejaculation of the semen.

What are the zones of the prostate gland?

The prostate gland is comprised of different anatomical zones. Most cancers originate in the “peripheral zone” at the back of the prostate, which can be accessed via digital rectal exam. The “transition zone” surrounds the urethra and is the site where benign enlargement of the prostate occurs. The “central zone” surrounds the ejaculatory ducts, which run from the seminal vesicles to the urethra.

Prostate Zones

Curious Facts About the Prostate

  • The prostate functions to produce a milky fluid that serves as a nutritional vehicle for sperm.
  • Prostate “massage” is sometimes done by urologists to “milk” the prostate to obtain a specimen for laboratory analysis.
  • The prostate undergoes an initial growth spurt at puberty and a second one starting at age 40 or so.
  • A young man’s prostate is about the size of a walnut, but under the influence of aging, genetics and testosterone, the prostate gland often enlarges and constricts the urethra, which can cause annoying urinary symptoms.
  • In the absence of testosterone, the prostate never develops.
  • The prostate consists of 70% glands and 30% muscle. Prostate muscle fibers contract at sexual climax to squeeze prostate fluid into the urethra.  Excessive prostate muscle tone, often stress-related, can give rise to the same urinary symptoms that are caused by age-related benign enlargement of the prostate.
  • Women have a female version of the prostate, known as the Skene’s glands.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community. He is a urologist at New Jersey Urology, the largest urology practice in the United States.

The content of this entry is excerpted from his new book, PROSTATE CANCER 20/20: A Practical Guide to Understanding Management Options for Patients and Their Families

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Preview of Prostate Cancer 20/20

3-minute video trailer for Prostate Cancer 20/20

Andrew Siegel MD Amazon author page

Prostate Cancer 20/20 on Apple iBooks

 

 

Female “Prostatitis”: How Is That Possible?

December 22, 2018

Andrew Siegel MD  12/22/2018

The prostate gland is that mysterious male reproductive organ that can be a source of curiosity, anxiety, fear and potential trouble.  Although women do not have a prostate gland, they have a female equivalent, known as the Skene’s glands.  Like the prostate, these glands can be a source of maladies resulting from their infection/inflammation, the female version of prostatitis.

Image below: note Swedish “slida” is vagina (literally “sheath”); note Skenes and Bartholins gland  openings, “urinrorsmynning” = urethra; “klitoris” = clitoris

Skenes_gland-svenska

Attribution of image above: By Nicholasolan (Skenes gland.jpg) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Skene’s glands, a.k.a. the para-urethral glands, are present in all females and are the female equivalent of the male prostate gland. They were first described in 1880 by Dr. Alex Skene, a Brooklyn gynecologist.  These paired glands are located within the top wall of the vagina near the urethra and drain into the urethra and to tiny openings near the urethral opening (see image above).  Like the prostate, these glands envelop the urethra and contain prostate-specific antigen (PSA), an enzyme that can indicate prostate health in males. Although their precise function is unknown, they are thought to provide genital lubrication. At the time of sexual climax, they can release a small amount of fluid into the urethra, paralleling the male release of prostate fluid at the time of ejaculation.

Similar to the male prostate that is subject to inflammation and infections (prostatitis), the Skene’s glands can be similarly afflicted, a condition known as Skenitis.  Skenitis can give rise to the following symptoms:

  • A urinary infection that fails to be cured or reoccurs after appropriate treatment with a course of antibiotics
  • Pain at the urethral opening or at the top wall of the vagina
  • Pronounced tenderness with contact, e.g., touch, tampon insertion, sexual intercourse, tight clothing

Pelvic examination in a patient suffering with Skenitis usually shows the following:

  • Tenderness at the urethral opening or just within the vagina
  • A discharge of pus from the Skene’s glands ducts (tiny openings visible at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock relative to the urethral opening) that can be expressed by compressing the urethra
  • A red and inflamed mass around the urethra (para-urethral mass)

Treatment of Skenitis usually involves a prolonged use of a potent antibiotic in conjunction with supportive measures, including warm, moist compresses and sitz baths. A 4-week course of antibiotics is often required (similar to the prolonged course necessary for treating prostatitis). At times a Skene’s abscess needs to be aspirated with a needle and syringe, or alternatively drained.  If the Skenitis does not respond satisfactorily to antibiotics and supportive measures, a surgical procedure may be required to remove the diseased portion of the urethra with the infected Skene’s gland.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted weekly. To receive a free subscription with delivery to your email inbox visit the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a physician and urological surgeon who is board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  He is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community.

Dr. Siegel has authored the following books that are available on Amazon, iBooks, Nook and Kobo:

MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

PROMISCUOUS EATING: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food

Cover

These books are written for educated and discerning men and women who care about health, well-being, fitness and nutrition and enjoy feeling confident and strong.

Dr. Siegel is co-creator of the male pelvic floor exercise instructional DVD (female version is in the works): PelvicRx

New video on female pelvic floor exercises:  Learn about your pelvic floor

6 Ways To Reduce Your Risk Of Prostate Cancer

May 13, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  5/13/17

Prostate cancer is incredibly common– one man in seven will be diagnosed with it in his lifetime–with average age at diagnosis mid 60s. In 2015, an estimated 221,000 American men were diagnosed and 28,000 men died of the disease.  Although many with low-risk prostate cancer can be managed with careful observation and monitoring, those with moderate-risk and high-risk disease need to be managed more aggressively. With proper evaluation and treatment, only 3% of men will die of the disease. There are over 2.5 million prostate cancer survivors who are alive today.

Factoid: The #1 cause of death in men with prostate cancer is heart disease, as it is in the rest of the population. 

finger 2

This is the index finger of yours truly; observe the narrow digit, a most desirable feature for a urologist who examines many prostates in any given day.  The digital rectal exam of the prostate is a 15-second exam that is at most a bit uncomfortable, but vital in the screening process and certainly nothing to fear.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if prostate cancer could be prevented? Unfortunately, we are not there yet—but we do have an understanding of measures that can be pursued to help minimize your chances of developing prostate cancer.

Factoid: When Asian men–who have one of the lowest rates of prostate cancer– migrate to western countries, their risk of prostate cancer increases over time. Clearly, a coronary-clogging western diet high in animal fat and highly processed foods and low in fruits and vegetables is associated with a higher incidence of many preventable problems, including prostate cancer.

The presence of prostate cancer pre-cancerous lesions commonly seen on prostate biopsy—including high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (HGPIN) and atypical small acinar proliferation (ASAP)—many years before the onset of prostate cancer, coupled with the fact the prostate cancer increases in prevalence with aging, suggest that the process of developing prostate cancer takes place over a protracted period of time. It is estimated that it takes many years—often more than a decade—from the initial prostate cell mutation to the time when prostate cancer manifests with either a PSA elevation, an acceleration in PSA, or an abnormal digital rectal examination. In theory, this provides the opportunity for intervention before the establishment of a cancer.

Measures to Reduce Your Risk of Prostate Cancer

  1. Maintain a healthy weight since obesity has been correlated with an increased prostate cancer incidence.
  2. Consume a healthy diet with abundant fruits and vegetables (full of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber) and real food, as opposed to processed and refined foods. Eat plenty of red vegetables and fruits including tomato products (rich in lycopene). Consume isoflavones (chickpeas, tofu, lentils, alfalfa sprouts, peanuts). Eat animal fats and dairy in moderation. Consume fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, tuna, sardines, trout and mackerel.  Follow the advice of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
  3. Avoid tobacco and excessive alcohol intake.
  4. Stay active and exercise on a regular basis. If you do develop prostate cancer, you will be in tip-top physical shape and will heal that much better from any intervention necessary to treat the prostate cancer.
  5. Get checked out! Be proactive by seeing your doctor annually for a digital rectal exam of the prostate and a PSA blood test. Abnormal findings on these screening tests are what prompt prostate biopsies, the definitive means of diagnosing prostate cancer. The most common scenario that ultimately leads to a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a PSA acceleration, an elevation above the expected incremental annual PSA rise based upon the aging process.

Important Factoid: An isolated PSA (out of context) is not particularly helpful. What is meaningful is comparing PSA on a year-to-year basis and observing for any acceleration above and beyond the expected annual incremental change associated with aging and benign prostate growth. Many labs use a PSA of 4.0 as a cutoff for abnormal, so it is possible that you can be falsely lulled into the impression that your PSA is normal.  For example, if your PSA is 1.0 and a year later it is 3.0, it is still considered a “normal” PSA even though it has tripled (highly suspicious for a problem) and mandates further investigation. 

  1. Certain medications reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 25% or so and may be used for those at high risk, including men with a strong family history of prostate cancer or those with pre-cancerous biopsies. These medications include Finasteride and Dutasteride, which are commonly used to treat benign prostate enlargement as well as male pattern hair loss. These medications lower the PSA by 50%, so any man taking this class of medication will need to double their PSA in order to approximate the actual PSA. If the PSA does not drop, or if it goes up while on this class of medication, it is suspicious for undiagnosed prostate cancer. By shrinking benign prostate growth, these medications also increase the ability of the digital rectal exam to detect an abnormality.

Bottom Line: A healthy lifestyle, including a wholesome and nutritious diet, maintaining proper weight, participating in an exercise program and avoiding tobacco and excessive alcohol can lessen one’s risk of all chronic diseases, including prostate cancer.  Be proactive by getting a 15-second digital exam of the prostate and PSA blood test annually.  Prevention and early detection are the key elements to maintaining both quantity and quality of life. 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

 

10 Reasons For Men To Kegel

June 4, 2016

Andrew Siegel, M.D. 6/4/16

The pelvic floor muscles—a.k.a. the Kegel muscles—are internal, hidden and behind-the-scenes muscles, yet they are vital to a healthy life. There are numerous advantages to keeping them fit and robust with pelvic floor exercises.  Last week’s entry detailed why this is the case for females and today’s will explain how and why are equally beneficial for males.  As the saying goes: “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” and when it comes to the pelvic floor, this is an absolute truth.  Kegel popularized these exercises for females and it is my intent to do the same for men!   If you would like more information on pelvic floor muscle training in men, visit AndrewSiegelMD.com, the opening page of which has the link to a review article I wrote for the Gold Journal of Urology on the topic. 

 

pixabay image

  10 REASONS FOR MEN TO DO KEGEL EXERCISES 

  1. To improve/prevent erectile dysfunction.
  1. To improve/prevent premature ejaculation.
  1. To improve/prevent ejaculatory dysfunction (skimpy ejaculation volumes, weak ejaculation force and arc, diminished ejaculatory sensation).
  1. To improve/prevent post-void dribbling (that annoying after-dribble of urine that occurs after finishing urinating).
  1. To improve/prevent stress urinary incontinence (leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.) that may occur following prostate surgery.
  1. To improve/prevent urinary and bowel urgency (“gotta go”) and urinary and bowel urgency incontinence (inability to get to the bathroom on time to prevent an accident).
  1. To improve/prevent pelvic pain due to pelvic floor tension myalgia by learning how to relax your pelvic floor muscles.
  1. To help prevent pelvic impairments from high impact sports and saddle sports (e.g., cycling, motorcycling and horseback riding).
  1. To improve core strength, posture, lumbar stability, alignment and balance.
  1. To maintain good health and youthful vitality.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc  

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

Breast Lift, Face Lift…Prostate Lift

April 1, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 4/2/16

“Prostate lift” a.k.a. “Urolift,” is a new rather clever means of improving a man’s ability to urinate when it is compromised by obstruction of the urinary channel because of enlarged lateral prostate lobes.

Prostate 101

The prostate is a male reproductive organ that produces prostate fluid, a milky liquid that serves as a nutrient vehicle for sperm. Similar to the breast, the prostate consists of glands that produce this milky fluid and ducts that convey the fluid into the urethra (urine and semen channel). The prostate completely surrounds the urethra, enabling its many ducts to drain into the urethra. However, this necessary anatomical relationship between the prostate and the urethra can potentially be the source of many troubles for the aging male.

The Enlarging Prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common conditions of the aging male  often causing bothersome lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS)—urinary frequency, urgency, nighttime urination, weak and intermittent stream and the sensation of incomplete bladder emptying—that affect quality of life by interfering with normal daily activities and sleep patterns. The relationship between BPH and LUTS is complex because not all men with BPH develop LUTS, and LUTS are neither specific to nor exclusive to BPH. Urinary tract infections, prostate cancer, urethral scar tissue, and impaired bladder contractility (underactive bladder) are other problems that can mimic BPH.

Why Does The Prostate Enlarge?

Aging, genetic, and hormonal factors cause the prostate gland to gradually enlarge, with the process typically starting at about 40 years of age. As the prostate grows (hypertrophies), it puts pressure on the urethra, much
 as a hand squeezing a garden hose can affect the flow through the hose. Although larger prostates tend to cause more of this “crimping” than smaller prostates, this relationship is not precise.

UroLift (Prostate Urethral Lift)

UroLift is a new, minimally invasive means of treating prostate obstruction using a cystoscope (a small telescope that is positioned in the urethra to view the urethra, prostate and bladder) to place implants within the prostate to compress the obstructing prostate tissue. It opens the urethra so that the prostate no longer blocks the outflow of urine. It does so while leaving the prostate intact, not requiring cutting, heating, lasering or removal of prostate tissue. It is advantageous because of reduced bleeding and the preservation of erectile and ejaculatory function. It is important to know that it is not applicable to all men with prostate enlargement as it is only appropriate for certain prostate anatomies and sizes.

The technique uses mechanical compression of the encroaching lateral lobes of the prostate, creating an open channel. The implants are similar in action to molly bolts, resulting in crimping and tufting of the prostate tissue. The implants are deployed under direct visual guidance at the 2 o’clock and 10 o’clock positions using a needle that houses the components of the implant. The needle is passed through the full thickness of the prostate and upon retraction of the needle, the prostate capsule is engaged by a nitinol tab that is attached to an adjustable suture. The suture is placed under tension and a stainless steel urethral end piece is attached to the suture, securing the compression. Between two and ten implants may be used, depending on the size of the prostate gland.

Urolift color with text 2

Because the procedure does not remove tissue and avoids thermal energy, it has minimal  — if any– adverse effects on erectile and ejaculatory function, a major advantage over many of the alternative treatments of BPH, both medical and surgical. Minor side effects include short-term urinary burning, urgency and blood in the urine. The procedure was pioneered in Australia in 2005, received FDA approval in 2013 and Medicare approval in 2016.

Bottom Line: The UroLift is a clever new procedure that is effective in alleviating the annoying symptoms of prostate obstruction in men with certain prostate anatomies and sizes.  It alleviates obstruction without removing tissue by compressing the obstructing lateral (side) prostate lobes and does so without adversely affecting sexual or ejaculation function. 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store that is home to quality urology products for men and women.  Use code UROLOGY10 at check out for 10% discount. 

 

Shy Bladder Syndrome

January 16, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD   1/16/16

charlie pink leaves

The image above is of Charley Morgan, my Springer spaniel, who is standing in a bed of cherry blossoms.  She has the very opposite of shy bladder syndrome, urinating involuntarily whenever people visit!

 

The following are quotes from patients of mine who suffer with shy bladder syndrome, the difficulty or inability to urinate in a public venue or in the presence of others:

“ I can’t urinate in front of other people.”

 “No way could I ever use a urinal.”

 “No beer for me at the sports arena.”

 “I would die before I ever attempted to urinate into one of those trough urinals they have at some stadiums and gyms.”

 “I need a private stall when in a public restroom.”

In medical speak, the condition “shy bladder syndrome” is known as “paruresis,” although I prefer the term “bashful bladder.” There are an estimated 20 million or so Americans suffering with this social phobia in which even the thought of having to urinate in public causes great distress, making the physical act of urinating impossible. However, those with bashful bladder have no such issues when in a private venue. In its most extreme form, a person with this phobia can only urinate at home when no other family members are present.

This problem occurs in both women and men and often manifests itself in adolescent years. It is a classic example of the mind-body connection in action. Anxiety brought on by the thought of having to pee in public causes the release of adrenaline and other stress chemicals, which cause a host of general effects such as  rapid pulse, shallow breathing, but also specific effects including the clenching of the muscles in the urethra (and male prostate gland). The inability to relax these sphincter muscles make the act of urinating difficult, if not impossible. It is little different than stage fright or the inability to speak in a public setting.

There are a variety of coping measures that people with shy bladder syndrome use, including restricting fluid and caffeine intake, deliberately holding in their urine and avoiding travel and other circumstances that would require the use of public restrooms.

Solutions to Bashful Bladder

The seemingly simple act of urination is actually a very complex event. Effective urination requires a contraction of the bladder muscle with coordinated relaxation of the sphincter muscles that pinch the urethra closed.  In order to improve bashful bladder, efforts need to be directed at general relaxation/anxiety management as well as at relaxing the urethra and sphincter muscles.

  • Relaxation techniques include deep breathing with exhalation to maximally relax the voluntary sphincter when in a public restroom; other methods include meditation and any of the many means of achieving a relaxed state including yoga, massage, tai chi, aromatherapy, hypnosis, etc.
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy to help relax tense pelvic muscles that can contribute to the problem, since they contribute in a major way to the voluntary sphincter muscle.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, which aims to retrain the mind to replace dysfunctional thoughts, perceptions and behavior with more realistic or helpful ones in order to modify fear of emptying one’s bladder in public.
  • Medications: Alpha blockers, “anti-adrenaline” agents used to relax the muscles of the urethra and prostate (Flomax, Rapaflo, Uroxatral, etc.);  Anti-anxiety medications can be helpful as well at times.

Bottom Line: Bashful bladder is a not uncommon social phobia that can severely impact one’s quality of life.  The good news is that this is a manageable problem.  For more information visit paruresis.org.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym, a comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training program. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, Private Gym empowers men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.