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Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015

Father's Day: A Good Time to Focus on Men's Health

This Sunday, many of us will celebrate Father’s Day. For a lot of families, this will mean taking dads, grandfathers or husbands out to a nice lunch, and getting them some type of gift to show them how much they’re loved. While that’s a totally acceptable way to spend the day, it also might be nice to consider giving the men in your life a push in a healthier direction. Typically, men don’t worry about their health as much as they should, ignoring warning signs and skipping regular doctor visits for various reasons, not the least of them being the long-held perception of the “tough guy” who doesn’t need help. But, as we take time this week to celebrate the fathers in our lives, it’s also a good time to remember that all of us – even the “tough guys” – could benefit from a little looking after when it comes to our health. Besides, what better way to show them how much you care and appreciate them than to help them stick around as long as possible?

“Men can be more reluctant and may need a push from their wives or a family member,” said Blount Memorial urologist Dr. Rustan Van Wyk. “It definitely is important for men to go to their doctor to be checked for signs of prostate cancer, particularly if they’re showing any symptoms such as difficulty urinating, or any potential testosterone issues that might make them candidates for testosterone replacement,” he explained. Van Wyk added that once men are referred to his office – typically, from their primary care physician – he can help them determine the exact cause of the issue and treat it. “No matter what they’re coming to see me for, we’ll talk over the problem, what the cause may be and what treatments are available. Treatments can range from medications to minor surgeries to minimally invasive procedures to larger surgeries,” he said. “However, even with a bigger surgery, they’re not going to be in the hospital for more than a day or two,” he added.

When it comes to prostate cancer, Van Wyk says it’s important to be screened early. “The initial recommendation was to have men begin getting tested at age 50, however, if they have a family history or any of the other key risk factors, they should begin even sooner,” Van Wyk said. “Typically, when men come to my office, they’re having a urinary problem or prostate problem. A lot of men who come in are having issues going to the bathroom or perhaps some erectile dysfunction, but prostate cancer is definitely high on the list along with incontinence and testosterone issues,” he explained.

Regardless of the issue, Van Wyk says it shouldn’t be ignored. “A lot of times, men will deny their symptoms,” he said. “Other times, men are afraid of the potential problems. Everyone is afraid of cancer, so they can come up with the worst-case scenarios in their minds and they think that if they just don’t know then it won’t bother them as much. Today's man should not be afraid to ask his urologist about his options. I offer and discuss all options available with my patients, and help them decide which option best fits their, age, lifestyle and desires. Of course, I also give them my recommendation, but it is a joint decision for treatment that is reached through the discussion. I feel that this is important so that the patient will have a good understand of what is going on, and understands what he can expect from his treatment,” Van Wyk explained. “The more men know about their problems and plans of treatment, the less likely it is that they will develop any problems following treatment. This is why developing good patient relationships is so important,” he added.

Dr. Van Wyk sees patients at his office, located in the Blount Memorial Physician Office Building on the hospital’s campus. For more information or to set up an appointment, call 865-980-5244.

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