Westchester County, New York (PRWEB) June 15, 2011
Quality, patient centered care that’s close to home—That’s Northern Westchester Hospital. There are many reasons men don’t visit the doctor on a regular basis. For one, men don’t view visiting their doctor as part of preventative care the way women do. Many women begin seeing a gynecologist during their teenage years and then continue doing so on an annual basis. Men, on the other hand have a tendency to see a doctor only when they are seriously ill or injured. Prostate cancer is an example of a serious illness that affects more than 200,000 men each year*, but if caught early, prostate cancer has a high treatment success rate.
“A man’s greatest advocate for medical care is a woman,” says Warren Bromberg, MD, FACS, Chief of Urology and Director of the Prostate Program at Northern Westchester Hospital. “Spouse, girlfriend, or daughter—women are the driving force in getting men to get a checkup. That’s a great Father’s Day present, since visiting the doctor usually sits at the bottom of a guy’s to-do list—especially when it involves a prostate exam,” says Dr. Bromberg. Unfortunately, avoiding the doctor doesn’t mean avoiding health problems—actually it may mean quite the opposite. Physical exams provide an excellent opportunity for men to have a conversation about those seemingly minor aches and pains that they experience.
- How often should a middle-aged man see his physician and why is this important?
If a man is under 50 and healthy, and there’s no history of chronic disease in his family (heart disease or cancer, for example), seeing a doctor every two or three years is probably enough. But if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a first-degree relative (a brother or father) with a serious illness, you should see a doctor at least annually. After 50, annual visits should include a prostate exam with a blood test called prostate-specific antigen, or PSA. For men with a history of prostate cancer in their family, it is especially important to detect prostate cancer as early as possible.
- Regular physical exams can help to identify a number of health issues, prostate cancer being one of them. Why is it so important to catch this early?
Prostate cancer is a disease for which there are a number of different treatments, but most are effective only if it’s caught before the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland. Once the cancer escapes the prostate, the chance of cure is markedly diminished. Unfortunately, prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms, so it can grow for years unnoticed. A visit to the doctor is your best bet.
- Besides a visit to the doctor, are there other ways to detect prostate problems?
Many men will develop urinary problems due to a benign condition called BPH which is associated with aging. The slowly enlarging prostate, which encircles the bladder opening, begins to restrict the flow of urine leading to a slow stream, urinary urgency, and nighttime frequency. This affliction can be helped with medication or surgery.
- What are the most common treatments for prostate cancer?
For men over the age of 75, the most common approach is what we call active observation. Men are regularly checked, but we don’t always treat the cancer because it can be slow growing and therefore unlikely to cause problems. If an older man needs treatment, we may suggest radioactive seed implantation. This approach is minimally invasive and can be done under anesthesia in about an hour on an outpatient basis.
For younger men, especially those with a faster growing cancer or a family history of the disease, we may advise removing the prostate gland through a robot-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy (see sidebar). Our results with this procedure have been excellent with low rates of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction. Alternatively, in select instances, we recommend seed implantation or external radiation treatment.
Robotic Assisted Prostatectomy
During a robot-assisted prostatectomy, the surgeon uses an advanced operative device which combines a computer, 3D video system, and specialized hand controls to manipulate robotic arms to remove the prostate. The machine is very precise, allowing surgeons to remove the gland through four or five small incisions instead of one large belly incision, as was the case with traditional techniques. The risk of damaging vital nerves around the prostate is much less. “The machine is quite phenomenal,” says Bromberg. “You can’t believe how clear and bright the image is and how precise a surgeon can be.”
Robotic training nowadays is part of a urological residency, so specialists learn it as part of their medical training. Dr. Bromberg took courses at university medical centers and with the company that developed the device to perfect his technique. “We began using the robot at Northern Westchester Hospital well before many other regional centers and over the years have had tremendous success with our patients.”
About Northern Westchester Hospital
Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH) provides quality, patient centered care that is close to home through the right combination of medical expertise, leading edge technology, and a commitment to humanity. Over 600 highly skilled physicians, state-of-the-art technology and professional staff of caregivers are all in place to ensure that you and your family receive treatment in a caring, respectful and nurturing environment.
NWH has established extensive internal quality measurements that surpass the standards defined by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA) National Hospital Quality Measures. Our high quality standards help to ensure that the treatment you receive at NWH is among the best in the nation. For a complete list of our services, please visit http://www.nwhc.net.
- * National Cancer Institute: http://www.seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/prost.html#risk