To Your Health - Prostate Questions with Dr. Ronald Tutrone
While most men would prefer to skip their prostate exam, Dr. Ronald Tutrone, Chief of the Division of Urology at GBMC and Medical Director of Chesapeake Urology Research Associates, says that’s not a good plan. “Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer,” explains Dr. Tutrone. “So recommended screening is important for early detection.” In addition to talking about prostate cancer, he also shares the key steps men should take throughout their lives to protect their urologic health, including practicing safe sex to lower the risk of sexually transmitted infections, and the three most common prostate health issues men face throughout their lives — prostatitis (an infection or inflammation of the prostate), benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and prostate cancer.
He explains that as men reach the age of 40, their prostate, a walnut-sized gland at the base of the bladder, has a growth spurt. That can lead to a more frequent need to urinate, especially at night, and a slowing of the urine stream, signs of BPH. In fact, 60% of men are living with BPH by age 60. Dr. Tutrone emphasizes that BPH is a benign, though often frustrating, condition and having it does not increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
He highlights the risk factors for prostate cancer (older age, being African American, having a family history of prostate cancer) and the tests and treatments for the disease, including new, more sensitive genetic urine tests for prostate cancer that GBMC is participating in clinical trials for.
“Getting screened for prostate cancer is important, because the disease usually doesn’t have any symptoms until it’s advanced and more difficult to treat,” Dr. Tutrone adds. “Screening matters. It saves men’s lives when done properly. I remind my patients that for most men, prostate cancer is not a death sentence. It’s more of a speedbump. Most men are diagnosed with prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate and the survival rates are very good—a 96% 10-year survival rate. So, talk with your doctor about when you should be screened and how often.”