by Dr. John C. McHugh
“I’m not a sexy guy. I went to a hooker. I dropped my pants.
She dropped her price.”
- Rodney Dangerfield
The reason why the prostate doesn’t get any respect has a little to do with the very nature of the organ and its disease and a little to do with the mindset of the male. The perfect storm which is a gland that the male can’t see or feel and a cancer that doesn’t cause symptoms until it is too late is the reason for the tragedy of over 25,000 deaths a year in the United States a year. Look at the following reasons and see if a loved one, or maybe even you, isn’t guilty as well.
• Unlike a women’s breast that gets all the attention an organ could ever want, the prostate lives a very isolated life. You can’t see it, you can’t feel it, men don’t know what it does, and they sure as heck don’t want a stranger probing around to disturb it or try to feel it. Men feel unmanly with the very thought of a rectal exam and would just as soon not have the prostate checked.
• Then the blood test PSA comes along and further complicates the prostate’s social life. Before the PSA was a test the only way to check on the prostate was a rectal exam. Now with the advent of this simple blood test, men and doctors will often substitute the PSA for the rectal exam. It is an easy sell; not doing a rectal exam makes a doctor’s visit much more pleasant for both the doctor and the patient. (One can have prostate cancer with a normal PSA.)
• Even when the prostate tries to exert itself with prostate cancer it gets little attention both because of the prevailing belief that prostate cancer doesn’t kill people and that it often occurs only in older men.
• Many patients, but particularly men, will only go to the doctor if they perceive a problem with an organ or if a symptom presents itself. Once again, for the wrong reasons, the prostate is left out and not invited to the party-it gets no respect.
• The final insult to the prostate is what happens to the male if you mess with it. It is almost as if it is mad about being ignored throughout its life. Now that something has to be done to treat the cancer; the angry prostate exacts its revenge in the form of leaking urine and sexual dysfunction. These two maladies strike right at the heart of the male ego.
“Hell hath no fury like a prostate scorned.”
When men acknowledge the respect which prostate cancer deserves, there will be a heightened awareness, early detection, and treatment in a more curable phase of prostate cancer.