Black Community: Urgency Unveiled – The Critical Intersection of Prostate Health and Cancer Awareness Among Black Men.

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( Black men are 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and twice as likely to die from the disease. Lloyd Austin, Al Roker, and Dexter King have all been featured in the news lately because of their experiences with prostate cancer.

We all know what it is like to experience the sudden urge to relieve ourselves. You may be on a road trip or out to run errands, and suddenly, an unavoidable pressure in your bladder interrupts your day and leads you to run around on a hunt for a bathroom. This urge may also present itself when you are in deep sleep, disrupting your rest time.

Black Community: Urgency Unveiled - The Critical Intersection of Prostate Health and Cancer Awareness Among Black Men.

What causes this unusually constant urge to Urinate?


Urine is produced by your kidneys, and it flows through your ureters toward your bladder. Your bladder has attributes that resemble an elastic balloon. In other words, in order to store your urine, it stretches considerably. During urination, it contracts, thereby releasing all the urine via your urethra. It is quite interesting to note that in men, the urethra runs through the prostate, which is a part of the reproductive system, before going through the penis.

The prostate is approximately the same size as a walnut and is positioned right under the bladder. It is wrapped around the urethra, right in front of the rectum. The role of the prostate entails the production of a nourishing fluid, which facilitates the movement of sperm. With age and various parameters such as lifestyle, family history, and changes in hormones, the prostate may undergo some enlargement. This is a very common condition and is referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia. The severity of the condition may vary and typically, it presents itself when a person is around 50 years old.

It is also worth noting that the size of a prostate can vary from that of a walnut to something akin to a baseball. While every prostate grows in size, only some lead to symptoms.

In order to determine the size of your prostate, your doctor may perform a digital rectal exam. The size can also be estimated via an imaging test, such as an MRI or an Ultrasound.  Both the prostate size and potential symptoms may be assessed by the doctors. When the prostate is even mildly enlarged, a few symptoms might emerge, including a rise in the frequency of urinating as well as a weaker stream. It is possible that an extremely enlarged prostate may not cause any symptoms.

It is highly recommended to get in touch with a doctor if there are any noticeable changes in your urination. In case of any disruptions to your everyday life due to your enlarged prostate, there are several options – both surgical and medical – to enhance your condition.

It is very important to monitor any of your symptoms and seek professional help, if necessary. When it comes to a man’s overall well-being, prostate health plays a key role. Thankfully, advancements in the medical field have allowed for various treatment options that can mitigate your symptoms effectively.

Options for medical treatment


Doctors typically present various questions when evaluating your condition. This may pertain to the frequency and patterns of your urination. Based on your responses, they may categorize the severity of the condition and conduct tests to screen for prostate cancer or to evaluate the performance of your kidney. The treatment plan is then determined based on this assessment.

There are various medical options that are available to address the issue of an enlarged prostate. The solutions are in line with the general health of the patient as well as the symptoms’ severity.

Often, alfuzosin, tamsulosin, or other similar alpha-blockers are prescribed to ensure that the muscles in the prostate and the bladder neck can relax to simplify the process of urination. Individuals may also be recommended 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, such as dutasteride or finasteride, which gradually help decrease the size of the prostate glands. To optimize relief from the symptoms, a few of these drug classes may be prescribed together.

Addressing an enlarged prostate through surgery


  1. Open prostatectomy: Although this procedure is seldom performed in recent times, it essentially involves removing a part of the prostate by making an incision in the lower portion of the abdomen. Robotic surgery may be opted for as well. However, because the complications of this procedure – infection and bleeding – are of a higher risk, it is only employed in case the prostate is extremely large. The patient might have to stay back in the hospital for a couple of days. Please note that in the case of prostate cancer, the entire prostate is removed.
  2. Transurethral resection of the prostate: This option is less invasive. Essentially, a scope is inserted via the urethra and bipolar energy is used for the trimming of any excess prostate tissue. While the recovery time is shorter and urinary symptoms are greatly improved via this procedure, sexual function may be impacted. Bleeding is another complication to consider. At most, the patient may be asked to stay overnight for observation.
  3. Prostate lift: Urine flow is unblocked in this procedure, which is minimally invasive, by leveraging small implants that can lift and hold the prostate tissue. The risk pertaining to sexual function is less with this procedure. Additionally, it is a quick outpatient procedure with a short recovery time.
  4. Steam vaporization: Excess prostate cells are destroyed during this treatment due to the steam. While being highly effective, this process is also minimally invasive. The recovery period is short and the risk of side effects is low.  No overnight stay at the hospital is required for this procedure.

Implications of a prostate procedure


To help with urination, a catheter may be placed by the medical specialist for a very short period. Following surgery, the patient may notice some blood when urinating. This side effect may last for a few weeks. For a few of these procedures, sexual function may be affected on a temporary basis.

For a few weeks or months following a procedure, the patient may experience urinary symptoms concerning frequency of urgency. The time required to recover completely will depend on the procedure, with minimally invasive surgeries typically needing shorter periods for recovery.

Finally, there is no association between prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, it may be slightly more challenging to screen for cancer in patients suffering from this condition. As such, it is very important to opt for check-ups on a frequent basis. Always discuss any symptoms with your doctor to address the condition proactively and comprehensively. Black men are at a higher risk of getting prostate cancer and dying from it. Take this advice from the experts if you are at risk:

  • Black men (and their doctors) should consider increasing screening for this disease.
  • Black men could benefit from joining clinical trials and other research studies related to prostate cancer.
  • Be vigilant and be wise because prostate cancer is no respecter of the men it afflicts.

Associate Editor; Stanley G. Buford

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