This Special Health Report offers steps and strategies to lessen — or prevent — threats to a man's well-being and longevity. It provides a wide-ranging, clear-eyed look at the leading causes of death for men at midlife and beyond. It examines those factors that put them at risk for a variety of health problems and explains the important measures than can be taken to reduce risk and live a longer, healthier life.Learn More »
Most men eventually develop some type of prostate problem, and when they do there are usually no easy solutions. The three most common prostate problems are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Men with the same condition and symptoms might opt for very different treatments — or choose to do nothing at all.
A number of exciting new treatment options have emerged for prostate diseases, including new medications and refined surgical techniques. But daunting challenges remain. A major disappointment has been in the area of chemoprevention — an approach that uses drugs or supplements to try to reduce risk of prostate cancer. Two leading contenders — 5-alpha reductase inhibitors and vitamin E supplements — not only don’t seem to prevent prostate cancer but actually may increase risk of developing it. And in a major development, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended against routine prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening — arguing that for most men screening does not save lives and causes more harm than benefit.
That’s why this unique publication is more than a primer on prostate conditions; it includes roundtable discussions with experts at the forefront of prostate research, interviews with patients about their treatment decisions, and the latest thinking on complementary therapies.
The goal of this publication is not to relate easy answers. Rather, our mission is to provide you with the information you need to understand the current controversies, avoid common pitfalls, and work with your doctor to make informed choices about your prostate health.
Prepared by the editors of Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Marc B. Garnick, M.D., Clinical Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and Hematology/Oncology Division, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. 128 pages. (2015)
- Monitoring prostate health
- Digital rectal examination
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
- Other PSA tests
- Other tests in development
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Positron emission tomography (PET) scans
- Prostate biopsy
- Prostate cancer
- What causes prostate cancer?
- Risk factors
- Can prostate cancer be prevented?
- Diagnosis and prognosis
- Treating prostate cancer
- Active surveillance
- Radiation therapy
- Focal therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Drugs in development
- Vaccines and other types of immunotherapy
- An international perspective
- Multivitamins don’t protect against prostate cancer
- Physicians support active surveillance but don’t recommend it
- Men least likely to benefit are receiving prostate cancer treatment
- Study helps better determine when postoperative radiation improves outcomes
- Protecting bones while treating advanced prostate cancer
- Clues that a diabetes drug may fight prostate cancer
- Prostate enlargement (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
- How BPH progresses
- Getting help
- Treating BPH
- Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis)
- What is prostatitis?
- Diagnosing prostatitis
- Treating prostatitis
- Erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence
- Treating erectile dysfunction
- Treating urinary incontinence
- Take charge of your condition
- Participate in a clinical trial
- Join a support group
- Eat a healthy diet
- Lose weight
- Exercise more
- Consider complementary and contemplative therapies
- Searching PubMed in five easy steps
- Related publications from Harvard Medical School
Time to develop your own game plan
This report is published each year around the time of the NFL playoffs. And if you’re a football fan, as I am, it’s hard to escape the steady barrage of ads for drugs to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and erectile dysfunction, or the celebrity pitches urging men to undergo PSA screening for prostate cancer.
It can be overwhelming. That’s why this publication is intended to help you become the quarterback when it comes to treatment decisions about BPH, prostatitis, erectile dysfunction, and other common prostate problems. And if I can stretch the football analogy a little further, I’d like to call for a whole new game plan when it comes to diagnosing and treating prostate cancer.
Research published over the past year has made it even more evident that widespread PSA screening is detecting cancers at such an early stage that it is doing more harm than good. In May, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for any man, regardless of age, race, or family history—arguing that for most men screening does not save lives and causes serious and long-lasting harms. Certainly the consensus has been building in this direction for quite a while, but the USPSTF is one of the nation’s most authoritative voices on this matter. Meanwhile, a long-awaited American study, the Prostate Cancer Intervention Versus Observation Trial (PIVOT), concluded that men who underwent surgery for localized prostate cancer were no more likely to survive than those who avoided treatment.
But it wasn’t all bad news. Several new drugs for late-stage prostate cancer have come on the market, and others are far along in the pipeline. These developments have helped to redefine metastatic disease from a death sentence to a condition men can live with—often for years, and without the disabling pain and crippling bone problems of the past.
That’s why this unique publication is more than a primer on prostate conditions; it includes insights from experts at the forefront of prostate research, interviews with patients about their treatment decisions, and the latest thinking about diet and complementary therapies. The companion website, www.HarvardProstateKnowledge.org, offers additional features and research updates throughout the year.
The goal of this publication is not to relate easy answers—because in many instances there are none. Rather, our mission is to provide you with the information you need to understand the current controversies, avoid common pitfalls, and work with your doctor to make informed choices about your prostate health.
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