Urology Blog

Prostate Cancer FAQs

Genetic research abstract - Prostate cancerSeptember is prostate cancer awareness month, so we are engaging in this important health topic here by answering some common questions about prostate cancer screenings. As you may know, cancer screenings have been praised for their ability to detect cancer early, during stages that are more responsive to conservative treatments. What you may not know is whether or not it is time for you to start your screening process, what to expect, and more. We’ll cover what we can here and invite you to contact us directly to either schedule your appointment or ask other questions that you have. We’re here to help!

When should I begin regular prostate screening exams?

Some patients falsely think that they may need a prostate exam when they experience unusual symptoms. Cancer screenings of all kinds, including screenings for prostate cancer, are best done when you do not have symptoms. Screenings are based on other factors, including age and family history. Generally, doctors advise men to begin their prostate cancer screenings at age 45. That said, they should begin earlier for men with known risk factors such as having a father, brother, or paternal uncle with the disease. 

What can I expect during a prostate screening exam?

There are two parts to the prostate screening. One is a blood test that measures prostate-specific antigen, PSA. This is a protein that is produced in the prostate gland. Elevated levels could indicate cancer. The second aspect of the prostate screening is a digital rectal exam. This test allows the doctor to feel the prostate to detect abnormalities. Neither test is particularly uncomfortable, and both take only a minute or two. Men are encouraged to keep a record of their PSA levels so they can be compared from one screening to the next. 

While PSA level is an important measure of risk, it is not a definitive indication of prostate cancer. Doctors do not use this test alone to diagnose prostate cancer. Elevated levels could be a result of inflammation, infection, or other origins. PSA may be influenced by certain medications, obesity, even exercise. So, while important to measure, the PSA measurement is only one aspect of a thorough prostate cancer screening. 

Can I reduce my risk for prostate cancer?

More research is needed to better understand the preventative nature of lifestyle on prostate cancer. Some say that there is little data to draw from. However, the data that is available indicates that diet could play a role. Countries in which men consume more fish and less fat show lower prostate cancer numbers compared to countries in which the Western diet rules. If you are interested in following a prostate-healthy lifestyle, experts suggest eating less red meat and fats and increasing the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. 

UT Urology has multiple offices to serve you. Contact us today to schedule your prostate cancer screening at a Chattanooga facility near you. 

What You Need to Know About Prostate Cancer Surgery

Prostate cancer is a relatively common condition, so is something that men and those who love them need to know about. In addition to understanding aspects of prostate cancer, such as risk factors and management options, it is also beneficial to know what it may be like to have prostate cancer surgery if that were necessary. Here, we share information from a prostate cancer recovery coach obtained through hundreds of visits with patients before and after their surgery.

  • Most men who undergo prostate cancer surgery report only mild post-operative pain. It has been described as a sensation of doing a few too many sit-ups.
  • Patients preparing for prostate cancer surgery often fear having a catheter. This small tube is inserted once the patient is anesthetized, so it is not felt. After surgery, most patients remain quite comfortable with the catheter in and have no problems changing from large-capacity bags to small-capacity bags. It is even comfortable to move around during the day wearing the small-capacity bag. The catheter is usually removed in a week or two.
  • Patients can expect to be up and walking the night of their surgery. Most are released from the hospital the day after their procedure with instruction to walk at least a few times a day. This is beneficial to help move gas through the body cavity, which can be the main source of post-operative discomfort.
  • Right after surgery, there may be a strong urge to urinate. This is caused by the small balloon that holds the catheter in place. While the sensation may feel odd, there is nothing to worry about. Urine will empty into the catheter bag.
  • It is not uncommon for urine leakage to occur when the catheter is removed. For this reason, it is beneficial to come to this appointment prepared with incontinence pads and a compression garment like light compression underwear. The compression keeps the pad in place, reducing the risk of leaks.
  • Urine leakage should resolve over time. This can take a few weeks or a few months. Until it does, it is wise to carry incontinence pads in case a change is needed. It can also be helpful to avoid stimulants like caffeine that could create a strong urge to urinate. Finally, leakage may be reduced by emptying the bladder frequently.

Prostate wellness is an important part of our practice. For more information or to schedule a visit, call (423) 778-5910.

The Role of Laparoscopic Prostatectomy in Treating Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Chattanooga TNProstate cancer is a condition that, when diagnosed, is graded. The grade of a cancerous prostate tumor is reached by assessing size and other characteristics that indicate potential aggressiveness. When a tumor appears to be on the aggressive side, radical prostatectomy may be advisable. This surgical procedure removes the entire prostate gland. In some situations, the early removal of the affected gland may provide an effective cure as well as a reduced risk of recurrence. Laparoscopic prostatectomy is a minimally-invasive technique that offers meaningful benefits.

Before the development of laparoscopic procedures, men needing a prostatectomy underwent traditional open surgery. Open surgeries require a larger incision to accommodate surgical instruments as well as visual access to the surgical site. The extensive nature of open surgery incurs a longer recovery period. Laparoscopic procedures are conducted with an instrument that enables viewing of the surgical area via a small camera on the end of a tube. No large incisions are needed, only a few small incisions through which tiny instruments can be inserted.

Why More Men are Choosing Laparoscopic Prostatectomy

Virtually any patient who has been diagnosed with localized prostate cancer may be a good candidate for prostatectomy. The benefits of this closed procedure versus traditional open surgery include:

  • Less trauma to the abdominal wall
  • Smaller, more discreet incisions
  • Less bleeding during surgery
  • Better visual magnification of the surgical site
  • Shorter hospital stay than traditional open prostatectomy
  • Less need for pain medication after surgery
  • Earlier return to normal activities
  • Better nerve-sparing capability

What is Laparoscopic Prostatectomy Like?

This minimally-invasive procedure can last between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 hours. Before surgery, general anesthesia is administered. The anesthesiologist monitors vital signs throughout the procedure. Small incisions are made to visualize and access the prostate. The catheter and camera are inserted through one and surgical instruments are inserted through the others. Using these instruments, the surgeon removes the prostate gland as well as the seminal vesicles, two fluid-filled sacs next to the prostate gland. After these structures are removed, the urethra is attached to the bladder neck. Depending on the diagnosis, nearby lymph nodes may be biopsied at the time of surgery.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an enlarged prostate or have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, or if you have a higher risk for either of these conditions, contact our Chattanooga office. We can help you navigate your treatment process. Call (423) 778-5910.

Enlarged Prostate Doesn’t Just Affect Your Bladder

Enlarged Prostate Chattanooga TNAccording to research, as many as half of the men aged 51 to 60 will develop BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia. An enlarged prostate. The good news about BPH lies in that one little, yet the uber-important word “benign.” To have an enlarged prostate doesn’t indicate that you have prostate cancer, or that your risk for cancer is substantially higher. It can mean that you have to face a few unpleasant symptoms, though.

The most common symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia revolve around urination. Because your prostate gland is adjacent to the bladder, its enlargement can cause the blockage. This may result in frequent urination, difficulty starting urination, a sensation of fullness after urination, dribbling, and weak urine flow. These are the symptoms that most men have been told or experienced for themselves. But there’s more. BPH can also affect your sex life. Here’s how:

  • Reduced sex drive and sexual satisfaction. This is related to the loss of sleep that stems from having to urinate frequently through the night more than it does any other aspect of BPH. Additionally, when the bladder feels uncomfortably full due to pressure from the blockage, anxiety may coincide with sex, diminishing the overall experience.

Treatment for enlarged prostate may be the underlying cause of

  • Retrograde ejaculation is a side effect that may occur after transurethral resection of the prostate, a procedure called TURP. This does not occur in all men whose BPH is treated with surgery, but it is a potential side effect that we discussed before treatment. Retrograde ejaculation is a condition in which, during the climax, semen enters the bladder rather than exiting the penis.
  • Lowered libido. Conservative treatment for BPH may involve oral medication such as a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor. If you are taking this type of medication and are experiencing a drop in your sex drive, talk with your doctor about potential alternatives to your current treatment plan. Lowered libido may also coincide with erectile dysfunction, which may occur in approximately 10% of men treated for BPH.

An enlarged prostate is a problem for which multiple treatment options exist. The advantages of treatment outweigh the potential downsides for most men. To learn more, contact the Chattanooga office of UT Urology at (423) 778-8765.

Is it Possible to Reduce the Risk of Prostate Problems?

Prostate Cancer Chattanooga, TNProstate health is an important matter for men of a certain age. It is widely recognized that prostate problems may occur as a man ages. Conditions such as prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are enough to incite worry that prostate cancer may be right around the corner. At UT Erlanger Urology, we believe in the power of partnership. Our patients’ peace of mind is important to us, and we foster that with clear information and personal care. Here, we want to discuss a few ways that research suggests men may support long-term prostate health.

Healthy diet.

Historically, the focus of “nutrition” has been on the limitation of caloric intake. Today, what we tend to focus on more is what we are eating on a daily basis. Food patterns are as important as calories and as important as staying hydrated with water versus other beverage choices.
What research indicates is particular value in:

  • Adequate servings of fruits and vegetables every day (at least five). One serving
    equates to approximately one cup of fresh fruit or vegetable.
  • Consume whole grain foods, such as barley, farro, and oatmeal. Whole grain
    foods contain all valuable parts of the grain, which means more vitamins and minerals.
  • Switch from red meat and processed meats to lean choices such as eggs, beans,
    poultry, and fish.
  • Consume healthy oils daily by adding avocado or almonds to a mean or snacking
    on pecans, pistachios, and walnuts.

Exercise regularly.

Exercise is not just for your heart, it’s also good for prostate health. Studies suggest that physical activity can decrease the likelihood of BPH. It doesn’t have to be much, just a 30-minute walk several days a week proved beneficial. Exercise has also been shown to decrease the chances of erectile dysfunction. In this case, the more strenuous the exercise, the better the outcome.

See your urologist.

After the age of 40, a man should become more stringent about routine medical care, including prostate exams and other vital screenings. Research suggests that waiting until the age of 50 to obtain a PSA, or prostate-specific antigen screening, could mean an increase in prostate cancer risk.

For personal care in our Chattanooga office, call (423) 778-5910.

Improving Patient Outcomes with Robotic Surgical Assistance

COMPREHENSIVE MEN'S HEALTH CHATTANOOGA, TNSurgical medicine has transformed over the past several years as a result of innovative developments. In our Chattanooga urology practice, it has been the advent of robotic surgery that has significantly impacted our approach to urologic care. Specifically, minimally invasive robotic surgery has improved outcomes in the treatment of urological cancers.

What is Robotic Surgery?

Our physicians use the da Vinci robotic surgery system to achieve superior clinical results for patients with prostate cancer. This surgical console provides the surgeon with three-dimensional, multi-level magnification of the surgical field, a much higher resolution image than is possible with traditional scope-assisted procedures.

As it sounds, robotic surgery involves the use of a sensitive electronic arm. The surgeon trained to operate the da Vinci system performs procedures from an operative site at which hand, wrist, and finger movements are transferred from the surgical console to the operative field in perfect scale.

Significant advantages of robotic surgery for prostate cancer include:

  • The one-centimeter diameter robotic arm of the da Vinci system is maneuvered with the help of sensitive electronics. This facilitates the most precise movements and efficiency for tissue removal without extensive disruption to surrounding structures. The conservation of these structures can lead to better outcomes regarding urinary continence after prostatectomy.
  • Because magnification improves the field of vision, the risk of missing cancerous tissue is very small. The success of accurate removal translates into a lower risk of relapse.
  • Conservative methodology also improves clinical results by reducing the chance of scar tissue accumulation, thus supporting adequate sexual function following the recovery from prostate surgery.
  • Smaller incisions during robotic surgery improve outcomes by reducing the risk of tearing and infection. Recovery is typically faster and more comfortable than traditional surgical techniques.

UT Urology has performed over 1,000 robotic surgical procedures in recent years. Our success with the da Vinci system continues to support optimal outcomes for patients with prostate cancer and other conditions which require surgical repair or removal of affected organs.

We are committed to ongoing progress through which our patients receive the best possible care. To learn more about treatment options for urological conditions such as prostate cancer, schedule a consultation with us.

Prostate Cancer: Details you Need to Know

Prostate CancerBeing diagnosed with prostate cancer, or even being concerned about an elevated risk, creates inordinate amounts of stress on the average guy. Here, we want to discuss some of the points of interest from experts in the field. This information is intended to help you navigate your journey through diagnosis, treatment, and recovery.

Food and Prostate Cancer

Many men who are concerned about prevention and treatment of prostate cancer look first to diet and other lifestyle modifications. While there is no single food or diet plan that has magical attributes, the evidence does support the validity of a low-sugar or sugar-free diet that is filled with lean meats or vegan proteins like beans and nuts. Protein sources should be complemented with leafy greens, whole grains, and fresh fruit.

A Look at Genetics

Any person who has a history of any form of cancer in their family has a higher risk than someone without that family history. Prostate cancer is no exception. Just as the BRCA2 gene is implicated in a higher risk for ovarian and breast cancer in women, this gene may also point to a higher risk of a man developing prostate cancer. At this time, however, evidence showing the benefit of testing is inconclusive. At most, men with a family history of prostate cancer are encouraged to speak with their physician regarding the optimal timing of PSA screening, rather than the inherited BRCA2 mutation.

PSA: About that Screening . . .

The recommended scheduling for PSA testing has changed over the years. Men who have never been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and who do not have an elevated risk such as family history, will most likely be encouraged to obtain screening at a later age, rather than on an annual basis. This is because the screening itself is not without risk (false positive). Currently, researchers seem to be discussing the benefits of less-frequent testing for low-risk patients. The diagnostic process is one that is approached carefully in each situation. Even older men with a high PSA may not have prostate cancer, but instead, may be living with an enlarged prostate.

Prostate cancer is a complex condition for which treatment options exist. At UT Urology, our goal is to act strategically with each patient to reach an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan. For more information on prostate cancer and your treatment options, call our Chattanooga practice at (423) 778-8765.



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