making a difference

Q&A: Ask the Experts 

1. What happens during a Prostate Cancer screening?

The goal of prostate cancer screening is to look for early signs of prostate cancer, when treatment is most effective. The two tests most often used to screen for prostate cancer are the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) and the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.

Because the prostate is an internal organ, your doctor cannot see it directly. But they can feel it by placing a gloved finger into the rectum (a DRE) to feel for any lumps or bumps (nodules).

The PSA is an easy blood test used to screen for problems of the prostate. It measures how much of the protein called PSA is in your blood. Having a raised PSA level does not mean you have prostate cancer. Other reasons, such as infections or an enlarged prostate can cause high PSA levels.

The choice to be screened for prostate cancer is a personal one. Before you decide to be tested, talk to your doctor about your risk for prostate cancer, including your personal and family history. Then talk about the benefits and risks of testing.

Scott Eggener MD, Associate Professor of Surgery at University of Chicago, Co-Director of Prostate Cancer Program and Director of Translational and Outcomes Research, Section of Urology

2. Does my son need to wear an athletic cup for every sport?

It is very important for boys to wear appropriate gear, like an athletic cup, to protect their groin area from injuries when playing contact sports. Ideally, an athletic cup should be worn, but at a minimum, the young men should wear compressions shorts. If your son plays a contact sport – like football, soccer, baseball, basketball or hockey – he should wear a cup made from a hard plastic or metal as soon as he is big enough to fit in one.  Athletic cups are sized by age. “Pee wee” may fit boys up to age 6 or 7. “Youth” may fit boys up to puberty. Then there are “teen” and finally “adult” sizes. It is most important the cup fits well. For a cup to work, it must fit tightly against the body. Compression shorts should also be chosen based on waist size. They should be snug but not uncomfortable. 

T. Ernesto Figueroa, MD, Nemours Children’s Health System Division Chief, Division of Pediatric Urology, Department of Surgery

3. Is a Vasectomy painful?

Vasectomy is a minor surgery in which the vas deferens (the two tubes that carry sperm from the testicles to the penis) are cut or sealed off. This blocks sperm from reaching the semen and therefore prevents pregnancy.  The procedure takes about 15-20 minutes.

Most men may have mild discomfort for 2-3 days after vasectomy. About 1 out of 5 men may have pain or discomfort for 1-3 weeks after a vasectomy. Post-vasectomy pain is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, like ibuprofen.

Cold packs may be placed on the area. Frozen peas or corn are a popular choice because they conform to the irregular shape of the scrotum. You should be able to return to work in one or two days, but avoid heavy lifting for about a week. As soon as you feel comfortable enough, you can resume having sex—typically this takes about a week.

Ira D. Sharlip, MD, Clinical Professor of Urology at the University of California at San Francisco.  |  SUMMER 2016  |  UROLOGYHEALTH extra