Prostate gland damage: A silent threat to men's health
SHAH ALAM - Some of the elderly individuals still consider urinary issues as a normal part of aging, unaware that it could be an early symptom of prostate-related diseases, commonly affecting men aged 50 and above.
The prostate is not a disease but a vital gland in the male reproductive system.
However, like other organs in the human body, various diseases can originate from it, such as inflammation known as prostatitis, prostate gland swelling and prostate cancer.
Unlike prostate cancer, prostate gland swelling can lead to urinary problems or blockage and if it is left untreated for an extended period, it can damage other organs, especially the kidneys and bladder.
Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital urology specialist Dr Syahril Anuar Salauddin said prostate diseases can be dangerous and potentially fatal if not treated immediately.
"While it poses a threat to life, not all prostate gland diseases can cause death. The symptoms can still be treated in the early stages to avoid complications such as urinary blockage," he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was one of the people suffering from prostate-related health issues.
However, he said Zahid's condition was unrelated to cancer but involved prostate surgery.
Dr Syahril said according to the Health Ministry's statistics from 2012 to 2016, the majority of patients only became aware of the disease when it reached stage four.
"Only 31 per cent of prostate cancer patients detected the disease at stages one and two, while 53 per cent at stage four.
"By then, the cancer has spread to the spine or other organs such as the lungs and brain. At this stage, treatment can prolong the life of the patient but could not fully recover the patient," he said.
Discussing the risk groups for prostate diseases, Dr Syahril said it often affected men with a family history of a similar illness.
"Stage one prostate cancer usually shows no symptoms but can still be detected early if patients undergo Prostatic Serum Antigen (PSA) blood tests. Additionally, smoking and obesity pose some risk, though not as high.
"For prostate gland swelling, the elderly are the most at risk. While not as dangerous as cancer, this group experiences severe urinary symptoms," he said.
Dr Syahril also urged men to undergo health screenings while they are still healthy and to seek early treatment for prostate gland-related diseases.
"I once encountered a patient in his early 50s who was active and participated in marathons. After he felt that both his legs were weak, he came to the hospital and was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer that had spread to the nerves.
"Despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet, early health screenings are crucial when reaching the age of 40 to avoid the risk of serious diseases," he said.
Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Medical Sciences urology clinical specialist and lecturer Dr Ahmad Faiz Najmuddin Mohd Ghazi said public awareness of prostate diseases was still low.
He said some people felt embarrassed and fearful to see a doctor as it has to do with the male reproductive system.
He also provided some tips for a healthy lifestyle to prevent prostate diseases, including maintaining an ideal body weight, not smoking, having a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activities.
"Risk factors that cannot be changed if a patient has prostate disease include age, ethnicity and genetics.
"However, risks like obesity, smoking and lack of exercise can change if a person consistently adopts a healthy lifestyle," he added.