The Rise of Prostate Health
Prostate health awareness has grown significantly in Australia over the past few decades. This is in part due to the development of contentious new screening techniques, but mainly the ever growing public education and awareness of men’s pelvic health.
Men are finally starting to talk up, and with good reason!
“Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in Australia and the third most common cause of cancer death. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85. It is more common in older men, with over 63% of cases diagnosed in men over 65 years of age.” [Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Australian Cancer Incidence and Mortality (ACIM) books: Prostate cancer. Canberra: AIHW]
Keep Reading to find out how your Physiotherapist may help manage your prostate or pelvic symptoms!
Prostate? What is it?
What is your Prostate? Why is it so important?
The prostate is a walnut sized gland located below your bladder and surrounding your urethra (tube for urination and ejaculation). It typically grows in size with age and excessive growth (ie cancer) can be problematic for many reasons. The Prostate’s main role is to create and store the fluid found in semen.
Problems with Prostate usually occur with excessive growth, i.e. cancer. This can interfere with its reproductive role, or compress nearby urinary structures, increasing the urge to urinate. This becomes even more concerning if the cancer growth is rapid and spreads to other areas of the body (metastasis). Treatment for this type of cancer may involve removal of the prostate and nearby structures, which can have an immense impact on a man’s quality of life.
Not all men will require treatment however, as the growth may be slow and there may be less invasive options to help manage the presenting symptoms, including Physiotherapy strengthening of pelvic floor muscles.
Testing, Signs and Symptoms
Prostate cancer testing procedures are still being developed. The latest screening process involves a blood test to detect a particular antigen (blood marker) that may help speed up the prediction of cancer. The test itself is not very invasive, however, it does not identify if the cancer will be aggressive or the slow growing types that may present. The risk then is that a slow growth cancer which is not uncommon, would be treated unnecessarily invasively and potentially cause more harm to the patient and their quality of life.
Other screening options involve smaller biopsies, physical internal examination and imagery.
Regardless, many initial symptoms experienced can be quite mild and are usually discussed with General Practitioners during yearly check ups. However, this means that men MUST continue to self educate and DISCUSS any changes to their bodies with their health professionals. As early detection and early management will usually create much improved outcomes and quality of life.
Signs and symptoms
- Increased urgency to urinate (worse at night)
- Weak urine flow, interrupted flow, difficulty initiating flow
- Incomplete emptying of bladder
- Pain with urination or ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Difficulty gaining or maintaining erections
- Regular low back, hip, thigh aches and pains
Pelvic Health and Physio
How can Physiotherapy help? Some of the symptoms that are affected by an enlarged prostate include frequent urination, weakened pelvic floor muscles, pain in the back or pelvis or weakened lower limbs. Physiotherapists can not only help manage pain and some of these symptoms but can also help to strengthen and support the affected lumbo-pelvic area
In particular the training of your pelvic floor can be quite challenging and easily guided by your physiotherapist. Your pelvic floor is a sling type muscle that supports your bladder and rectum. It contributes in controlling the opening of those organs as well as the ability to gain and maintain an erection.
New studies have shown that combining training of slow twitch plus fast twitch muscle fibres in multiple postures, especially standing, has the best reduction of urinary leakage post op.
Research and Movember
Due to the contentiousness of prostate screening, clearly more research is still required to improve the detectability of the more volatile forms of prostate cancer. Due to the significantly high rates of Aussie Men affected by this condition, it is important that we continue to rally around those who are suffering from the symptoms of prostate complications.
Here at Leaders Physiotherapy in Brisbane’s CBD, applying evidence based treatment to all areas of Physiotherapy is of great importance, as is our desire to support the further development of that research. That is why this Movember we will be putting our Moustaches to the test to help raise awareness and raise money for Prostate Cancer Research.
Feel free to contact us anytime to discuss pelvic health and exercise.
David McCawley – Senior Physiotherapist