The prostate problem affecting 50 per cent of men over 50

Cancer isn’t the only reason men should get their prostate checked.

Doctors urge action on prostate issue

Prostate cancer awareness is fairly high, but a more common prostate condition has doctors concerned.

Swelling of the prostate causes urinary problems and the condition affects one in two men over the age of 50, and by the age of 80, almost 80 per cent are suffering from the condition.

An article published in the Medical Journal of Australia’s Insight explained that urologists are becoming concerned that men are ignoring the problem.

Left untreated, this non-cancerous swelling, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, can lead to problems with the bladder and kidneys, and is associated with erectile dysfunction.

According to article author, Associate Professor Bill Lynch from Macquarie University, the prostate has proven to be extremely burdensome to the lives of men.

An enlarged prostate can cause difficulty in passing urine and over time can lead to the complete inability to pass urine, urinary infections, damage to the kidneys or bladder, and eventually to potential surgery – reportedly, the major concern for men regarding their prostate.

“Prostate issues are a fact of life for men, and are just as relevant now as they have been through the ages,” Assoc Prof Lynch said.

“BPH is a progressive, non-cancerous disease that tends to strike ageing men. Fifty per cent of men aged in their 50s will experience BPH, increasing to 80 per cent of men aged in their 80s.

“While not all men with BPH will show symptoms, more than 30 per cent of those aged over 50 will experience moderate-to-severe lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS), two-thirds of whose symptoms will be caused by BPH.

“This equates to more than a million Australian men experiencing significant symptoms due to BPH, noting most men aged over 50 must contend with LUTS.”

The quality of life for men with symptoms of BPH is significantly lower than for those exhibiting no symptoms, with daily activities, such as driving, sport, sleep and social activities considerably affected.

BPH is also linked to male sexual function, with a higher International Prostate Symptom Score (IPPS) – a scoring system used to screen for, diagnose and monitor symptoms – associated with more severe erectile dysfunction.

“Men experience varying symptoms of BPH with different degrees of bother, including increased frequency and urgency of urination both day and night, difficulty starting, maintaining and finishing urination. They may also experience urine infections or urinary retention,” said urological surgeon Dr Martin Elmes.

Gold Coast man David, 61, has first-hand experience of BPH, having lived with the disease for almost five years before being diagnosed and treated last year.                    

“I was constantly going to the bathroom. I had to plan my entire day around the next toilet, and I was getting up about four-to-five times a night to urinate,” he said.

“I lived with these symptoms for so long having mistakenly assumed they were normal. It wasn’t until visiting my GP for an unrelated matter that he mentioned my frequent urination may be linked to my prostate,” David said.

Further testing confirmed David’s frequent urination was in fact due to BPH, and he was referred to urological surgeon, Dr Elmes, for treatment. 

“I’d never heard of BPH until being diagnosed. Up until then, I thought prostate issues were a reflection of poor health, and given I was so healthy and active, it never crossed my mind,” said David.

Treatment improved David’s BPH symptoms and quality of life, and he now has a simple message to share with other blokes.

“If you’ve got trouble with your waterworks, don’t muck around. Get checked out. Visit your doctor.”

In his article, Assoc Prof Lynch argues it’s important to get to ‘the heart of the matter’, citing the management of prostate symptoms can have far-reaching benefits for a man’s general body health. 

“Maintaining overall prostate health is vital. Importantly, anything that’s heart healthy is prostate healthy,” Assoc Prof Lynch said.

“Nearly all documented interventions or lifestyle changes beneficial for heart health have been shown to prevent, or reduce the impact of BPH and LUTS, including moderate exercise, diet (regular vegetable and water consumption, fibre and Omega-3 intake), and weight control,” said Assoc Prof Lynch.

“High blood pressure, excessive calorie intake (particularly foods high in saturated fats), high cholesterol, heart disease and conditions that heighten your risk of developing diabetes, stroke and heart disease all negatively impact BPH.  

“Making lifestyle and behavioural changes to positively support prostate health should prove even more beneficial to the heart, while helping to allay men’s fears over surgery,” Assoc Prof Lynch said.                     

“All of this information provides a compelling argument for men to consider their prostate.” 

Do you have regular prostate checks? Do you think you might be suffering from BPH? Did you know this condition was treatable?


    Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.


    To make a comment, please register or login
    15th Aug 2018
    And where in the media does one ever hear about prostate cancer let alone this version of? Only breast and ovarian cancer is broadcast, funded and has any relevance as men are left to individually fend for themselves and in many cases die.
    Thanks for bring this forward Ben. Please send to major media outlets, not that any will likely take it up and run with a campaign, let alone give it one viewing a year.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Aug 2018
    It's been in the media in NSW for the past 10 years that I know of.
    I guess it depends on what your media preferences are.
    Knight Templar
    15th Aug 2018
    If this was a female issue the government would be spending $millions on awareness programs.

    That more men die from prostate cancer than women die from breast cancer is ignored by all and sundry. Men also experience higher death rates from heart conditions and strokes. Despite these facts, 80% of State/Territory health budgets target women's health.
    15th Aug 2018
    Well, Mick and Knight Templar, it has to start with men being proactive about their own health. Putting up with symptoms has to stop. There will be no change unless men own their health and see a doctor!

    Men have to be their own health advocates which is exactly what women have done for many many years. Instead of complaining about the publicity (and funding) given to women's health issues, men need to take a leaf from the female playbook and start campaigning on men's health issues. Where are the male led fundraisers for prostate cancer or heart disease? Men need to band together and make their voices heard. You would be surprised how much support you would get from women if you did!

    Just one point Knight Templar, women lose out to men in the heart attack stakes because women are not diagnosed early enough because their symptoms are different to men! And finally can you please point me to where you got your claim that 80% of State and Territory health budgets are spent on women's health? I would be very interested to see the evidence.
    Knight Templar
    15th Aug 2018
    So KSS it's the men who are at fault for not being proactive. That's the whole point of my comment - awareness programs for men! The fact is life teaches men to be more stoic. Society is more accepting of women who express concern about their health, men are expected to grin and bear many of life's tribulations.

    If women were less concerned about their own health, say on a par with men, buckets of money would have been thrown at female health awareness programs.

    On a similar point, when girls were doing less well at school and university, there were universal programs to improve female access to higher education. Now that more females complete Year 12 and go on to tertiary education than males, I don't see any concern in the education sector or government to address the plight of boys who have fallen behind.
    Retired Knowall
    15th Aug 2018
    "The fact is life teaches men to be more stoic". Really, I would classify those men as STUPID. If you have pain, discomfort or changes to your body is it STOIC to ignore it hoping it will go away or get it seen to. Here we are discussing Prostate issues but it applies to any part of your body. I don't know who you associate with Knight Templar, but I would suggest you get out more and associate with real men.
    15th Aug 2018
    I was feeling very unwell when I was 52 and paid a visit to my GP. She was on holiday and so another female doctor who I had never met, examined me. That visit saved my life. The GP knew I had a tumour and urged me to have a MRI. That proved negative. However she further insisted that I visit a specialist to have a colonoscopy which detected a tumour in my colon. An op and 6 months of chemo and then 4 years later a tumour in my liver and in my lung. Two more ops and another 6 months Chemo. 12 years later I am well and every MRI clear. Had I not made that initial trip I wouldn't have been writing this post. As one medical receptionist said to me after I collected some scan images, "Never put your head in the sand" She was so right.
    15th Aug 2018
    The good news is that finally, from 1 July this year, the MRI for the prostrate is now covered by Medicare. I’m sure the fee of over $320 would have been prohibitive for many men
    15th Aug 2018
    I've read a few times that regular ejaculations are beneficial to having a healthy prostate, tried to explain this to my wife but she won't have a bar of it.
    16th Aug 2018
    Well then, take things into your own hands Greg!
    16th Aug 2018
    "she won't have a bar of it.'... a tad tongue in cheek there Greg if you don't mind my saying so - at least it's one way to get ahead. You're a cunning... fella(tio)!

    29th Dec 2018
    Surgical advance, worth checking out,

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