Yearly medical exams vital to keep health problems in check
To the editor:
This letter was written on behalf of my late husband, Robert, and other men like him. It also has the backing of Dr. Stephen Meister, chief physician of Avera Marshall.
Yearly exams are encouraged for everyone to keep health problems in check. Mammograms for women and colonoscopies for both men and women are also encouraged for early detection of cancer. Prostate cancer in men can be detected through a particular blood test.
A check of the prostate gland used to be a routine part of a physical exam for men, usually starting at age 40. However, this practice is declining among some doctors. It is uncomfortable for the patient and not done unless he expresses problems with urinating.
There are two problems with this approach. First, men, like my husband, may not know that the prostate gland enlarges as they age. Urine travels through a tube that passes through the prostate gland. If the gland gets too large, it presses against the sides of the tube making urinating more difficult and eventually, impossible. If not treated with medication in early stages, or surgery, the result is having to use a catheter.
The second problem with not doing regular prostate checks is that men by nature do not like to ask for help. My husband grew up under the admonition, “don’t complain. Just do your chores.” He went to the doctor only when prompted (forced to) by his wife.
In Avera hospital elevators or outside of them, are posters explaining the importance of having a mammogram and colonoscopy screening. On behalf of my husband and other men, pamphlets and a poster educating men about the prostate gland and the purpose of a prostate check, would be beneficial.
If this letter helps one person, it was worth writing.