BPH Puts African-American Men At Risk, Many Do Not See A Doctor

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Many people may not realize that Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) affects approximately half of all men over age 50 and as many as 90 percent of men age 70 and older. BPH is a progressive condition in which the prostate becomes enlarged, causing such urinary symptoms as frequent and urgent urination, the need to urinate at night, a weak urinary stream and a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying; however, symptoms are manageable if properly diagnosed by a physician. Yet, African–American and Hispanic men are less likely than Caucasian men to see a physician. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 39 percent of Hispanic men did not visit a doctor or health professional in the past 12 months, compared with 27 percent of African–American men and 23 percent of Caucasian men. If BPH is left untreated, men could be at risk for sexual dysfunction, bladder infections and kidney damage.

From my experience, many of my patients tend to put off going to the doctor until it is absolutely necessary. Rather than seeking medical attention, men simply start to avoid certain activities such as long car rides and going to the movies because of their urinary problems. As a doctor specializing in urology, I felt the need to help educate men about BPH and the treatment options. Thus, I have joined the Men’s Health Network (MHN) to increase awareness among African–American and Hispanic men age 50+ through the Back to Life Without Interruptions campaign, which offers information about BPH, a complete self–assessment tool and tips on how to consult physicians about diagnosis and treatment in both Spanish and English. Information can be assessed online at www.nointerruptions.com.

The Back to Life Without Interruptions campaign hopes to bring to the forefront the issue that many men are adjusting their lifestyle to accommodate the symptoms of their BPH, rather than treating them. A 2005 MHN survey of men age 50+ revealed nearly 70 percent of men would change their daily routines to compensate for the need to urinate frequently, rather than seek medical attention.

I would like to encourage all men, including the African–American and Hispanic men who are statistically less likely to see a physician, to seek treatment if they experience symptoms of BPH and not to accept these types of daily interruptions in their lives. There are treatments available and men do not have to alter their daily routines for this condition.

The screening questionnaire below was developed by the American Urological Association (AUA) to help men determine how bothersome their urinary symptoms are and to check the effectiveness of treatment. Only a doctor can tell you if the symptoms you are experiencing are due to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), (enlarged prostate) or another prostate disease. Check the statements that apply to your symptoms and discuss the results with your doctor.

  • You normally have a sensation of not emptying your bladder completely after you have finished urinating.
  • You often need to urinate again less than two hours after you have finished urinating.
  • You find you stop and start again several times when you urinate.
  • You find it difficult to postpone urination.
  • Your urinary stream is weak.
  • You find you have to push or strain to begin urination.
  • You get up to urinate three or more times from the time you go to bed at night until the time you get up in the morning.

If you have checked four or more of these statements or if you haven’t checked the majority of statements but your symptoms are troublesome to you, see your doctor.

To contact Dr. Hatchett please visit siurology.net.

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