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Harvard Health Blog

Read the latest posts from experts at Harvard Health Publishing covering a variety of health topics and perspectives on medical news.

Articles

Newer screening tests

Published March 27, 2009

Researchers are developing more screening tests for prostate cancer. Like the PSA test, they rely on biomarkers, such as antigens or proteins, which are elevated or may only be present in men who have prostate cancer. The hope is that these newer tests will better detect existing cancers (better sensitivity), and will not raise the alarm for cancer when it is not present (better specificity).

What is a digital rectal exam (DRE)?

Published March 27, 2009

In this test, the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum and feels the surface of the prostate to determine whether it is swollen or has any lumps or abnormally textured areas (see Figure 1). This exam also helps doctors screen for diseases of the rectum, such as rectal cancer.

Cancer prevention trial (SELECT) comes to a halt

Published March 19, 2009

The National Cancer Institute discontinued the study after finding evidence that selenium and vitamin E supplements did not prevent prostate cancer.

Intermittent hormone therapy: A patient’s story

Published March 11, 2009

The jury is still out on whether intermittent hormone therapy, which involves repeated cycles of hormone therapy followed by breaks in treatment, might help patients live longer than continuous hormone therapy. But Patrick Kirby’s story might help patients who are debating various options in hormone therapy.

Hematospermia demystified

Published March 11, 2009

Spotting blood in your semen can be worrisome, but it’s usually not cause for alarm.

A Harvard expert shares his thoughts on testosterone-replacement therapy

Published March 11, 2009

Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School and the director of Men’s Health Boston, shares his views on current controversies regarding testosterone-replacement therapy.

New options for treating erectile dysfunction

Published March 11, 2009

Penile rehabilitation, which typically consists of oral or injected medications, alone or with other interventions, may help restore erectile function after treatment for prostate cancer. However, this therapy remains controversial.

Erectile dysfunction and heart disease: What’s the connection?

Published March 11, 2009

Even if your doctor has given you a clean bill of health, beware: problems getting or keeping an erection firm enough for sexual intercourse may signal trouble, especially cardiovascular disease, down the road.

Harvard experts discuss benign prostatic hyperplasia drug treatments

Published March 11, 2009

Three Harvard doctors talk about who needs to be treated for BPH, what medications should be prescribed, and what side effects you need to be aware of.

Your benign prostatic hyperplasia medication: When to consider a change

Published March 11, 2009

A look at treatment options and trade-offs

If you are like many of the 14 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), you’ve probably been taking the same medication, at the same dose, for years. If so, consider the experiences of two patients, both of whom were taking some type of medication for BPH. Their names have been changed, but all other details are accurate (see “Jack Muriel” and “Henry Banks”).

Treating erectile dysfunction with penile implants

Published March 11, 2009

Penile implants, an option patients with erectile dysfunction probably hear little about, might offer a lasting and satisfying “cure.” Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., director of Men’s Health Boston, explains how.

Strength training exercises

Published March 11, 2009

Regular physical activity can help keep you — and your prostate — healthy

By now, we’ve all heard about the value of exercise in maintaining good health. Literally hundreds of studies conducted over more than half a century demonstrate that regular exercise pares down your risk of developing some deadly problems, including heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer (colorectal cancer, for example). It also eases the toll of chronic ailments like high blood pressure, diabetes, and arthritis.

Eating for prostate health (Part 1 of 2)

Published March 11, 2009

Two registered dietitians from Harvard-affiliated hospitals tout the benefits of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains

“What can I eat to reduce my risk of developing prostate cancer?” That’s one of the most common questions physicians hear from men concerned about prostate health. Undoubtedly, many hope to hear their doctor rattle off a few foods guaranteed to shield them from disease. Although some foods have been linked with reduced risk of prostate cancer, the proof is lacking, at least for now.

Outcomes research in prostate disease

Published March 11, 2009

When it comes to prostate cancer and other prostate diseases, how accurate are the statistics we hear? Can patients rely on reported figures to determine their risk of suffering complications such as incontinence and impotence? Why do data vary from one organization to another? Three experts discuss these questions and the growing field of outcomes research.

Maintaining physical and emotional health during prostate cancer treatment: A patient’s story

Published March 11, 2009

Mr. Williams, a successful business owner in his mid-60s, describes how he was able to maintain his sex life and other aspects of his physical emotional well-being during and after treatment for prostate cancer.

A patient’s story: Overcoming incontinence

Published March 11, 2009

How one man persisted for almost two years in an effort to remedy one of the most bothersome possible side effects of prostate cancer treatment, and what men facing therapeutic decisions can learn from his experience.

Androgen-independent prostate cancer

Published March 11, 2009

When cancer advances despite primary hormone therapy

We often hear the term prostate cancer and assume it is one disease. Practically speaking, it is. On a molecular level, however, scientists are revealing a far more complex picture. Cancer has an innate ability to adapt to its surroundings. As it progresses, cancer cells tend to change, morphing to a point where the differences between tumor cells can be dramatic. That’s why some researchers believe late-stage prostate cancer is more accurately described as a mix of cancer cell types.

How to handle a relapse after treatment for prostate cancer

Published March 11, 2009

Marc B. Garnick, M.D., discusses what biochemical recurrence means and what your options are.

Answering key clinical questions

Published March 11, 2009

An interview with renowned urology researcher E. David Crawford, M.D., about the state of clinical trials on prostate health

Can hormone therapy extend the lives of men with advanced prostate cancer? Might a drug traditionally prescribed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) help prevent prostate cancer? Does a short course of hormone therapy prior to a radical prostatectomy prevent or delay cancer’s return?

Promising technologies for the treatment of prostate cancer

Published March 11, 2009

Marc B. Garnick, M.D., provides an overview of possible treatments that need more study, including cryotherapy, HIFU, and focal therapies.

Possible complications of hormone therapy

Published March 10, 2009

Three Harvard-affiliated physicians discuss the impact that hormone therapy can have on bones and cardiovascular health.

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