Prostate Disorder

Summer 2004 CSANews Issue 51  |  Posted date : May 10, 2007.Back to list

One of the most common disorders afflicting senior male travellers is the development of prostate symptoms, often requiring acute medical care while away from home. While the symptoms, disorders and treatments are quite well known, here is some information of particular interest to male travellers.

Symptoms of prostate disorders do not commonly present overnight. Usually, there are gradual increases in the initial signs and symptoms, such as more frequent urination, the need to get up at night to void, a slowing stream with more difficulty starting and ending urination and, occasionally, a sign of blood in the urine. If these symptoms occur prior to leaving home, a visit to one’s personal physician with the possibility of a urological consultation may be in order. If the findings indicate simple enlargement of the prostate (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy), lifestyle changes alone may suffice and the expectations of a trouble-free holiday are high. If the examinations suggest the need to rule out a more serious problem, such as the risk of obstruction or the possibility of cancer, further urological procedures would be necessary.

Apart from the traditional digital examination, the most common screening test for prostate cancer is the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). If elevated, this blood test may indicate the possibility of cancer and more tests would be indicated.

A needle biopsy of several sites in the prostate is a more reliable way of determining whether cancer is present.

This is done as an outpatient procedure. Should the test results be normal but the symptoms are significant, the appropriate procedure would be a TURP (Transurethral Resection of the Prostate). This common surgical procedure involves the removal of portions of the prostate obstructing the normal flow from the bladder. In advanced cases of simple prostate enlargement, or for certain cases in which cancer has been determined, a complete removal of the prostate is indicated. Some cases of prostate cancer are treated with drugs and hormones, while certain cases may be best managed with radiation or chemotherapy.

Of what should you be aware when travelling?
The most common precipitating factor in requiring treatment is complete obstruction precipitated by inappropriate alcohol consumption. Men with symptoms of prostate problems should either avoid alcoholic beverages altogether, or consume them in extreme moderation. “Benders” are dangerous and very commonly precipitate the need for an urgent trip to the local emergency room, insertion of a catheter, a cystoscopic procedure and in many cases, a surgical procedure. Such a single night of indiscretion can lead to a very uncomfortable and expensive outcome.

Treatment at an early stage is simpler and more effective. While away from home, if there is increasing frequency and a burning sensation when voiding, more trips to the bathroom at night or more difficulty starting and stopping, make an appointment with a family physician. Don’t wait. Your insurer’s assistance operations can direct you. Often, an antibiotic and/or other medication can tide you over until you go home. If more extensive investigation or treatment is advised, you and/or your insurer may decide that it’s best to proceed at home. A call to your home physician while travelling may often save a wait once you return.

A number of websites provide more detail. See www.viprostate.org for an excellent summary of prostate disorders. Newer methods for maintaining good prostate health, as well as for treating prostate disease, are being published monthly.

Stay tuned.