The Movember and No-Shave November movements have men’s health in their crosshairs, and Baylor College of Medicine is doing its part to raise awareness by providing individualized, tailored approaches to prostate cancer screening and erectile dysfunction.
Men age 50 and older should consider coming in for a prostate check and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to learn their risk level for prostate cancer, said Dr. Guilherme Godoy, assistant professor of urology at Baylor.
Elevated PSAs don’t always mean treatment, however. Godoy, as well as other Baylor urologists, take a more individualized and risk-stratified approach that allows them to avoid unnecessary biopsies and empower the patients to proper weight the risks and benefits of their clinical decisions.
If patients are at a higher risk, more frequent follow-up is recommended. The follow-ups can be between 1 to 3 years, or even longer, Godoy said.
According to Godoy, other risk factors that are taken into consideration for prostate cancer include:
- Family history
- Smoking habits
If a prostate cancer is diagnosed, again it does not always mean active treatment. Baylor urologists are able to provide their patients with an active surveillance approach, where they monitor men who may only be at very low risk to delay side effects of treatment or even avoid treatment completely. This allows doctors to follow their patients without active treatment. If during the surveillance period the patient’s parameters show signs of progression, the surveillance stops and active treatment begins, while the disease is still curable.
“Men who undergo surgery for prostate cancer can lose 10 to 90 percent of erectile function,” said Dr. Mohit Khera, associate professor of urology at Baylor. “Erectile dysfunction can be a side effect of prostate cancer, which is why Baylor College of Medicine started an erection restoration program.”
This program incorporates physical and sex therapy and hormone medications over one year of treatment. This work has been published and shows the intensive program leads to recovery, Khera added.
There also are other treatment options for erectile dysfunction patients, which include medication, penile injections and penile prosthesis.
“Penile prosthesis was invented at Baylor College of Medicine in 1972,” said Khera. “Although this treatment is used in almost every country, we treat patients from all around the world here and have become a mecca for this type of surgery.”
There are lifestyle choices men of all ages can make to safeguard their health, Godoy emphasized. Eating healthy, reducing stress, sleeping well, avoiding an excess of red meat and alcohol, exercise, fluid intake and smoking habits all affect many areas of a man’s health.
“Water intake alone is able to reduce by 50 percent or even more recurrence of kidney stones,” said Godoy. “Everyone should consume 2 to 4 liters of water or other liquids per day. I also recommend drinking citric juices because the citrate is good to prevent kidney stones.”
Funding for the Movember Foundation goes toward raising awareness and understanding of health risks men face, and No-Shave November raises funds for cancer awareness.
While most men will return to the clean shaven look after Movember is over, the commitment to men’s health should last a lifetime.