Men's Health | May 24, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men. This form of cancer occurs when abnormal cells develop in the prostate in an uncontrolled way. They can also spread outside the prostate into nearby or distant parts of the body. Unfortunately for some males they may need to have their prostate partly or fully removed—referred to medically as a prostatectomy. It’s important that males look after themselves after such a surgery to reduce any complications and to speed up recovery.
The prostate is a small gland that sits below the bladder near the rectum. It is only found in males and is responsible for the production of most of the semen that enriches sperm. It is an important component of the male’s reproductive system, relying on the hormone testosterone to grow. The prostate is about the size of a walnut and it is normal for it to grow as men age.
Having prostate problems is common in older men but they are not always the same signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.
Very early on, there may be no symptoms at all. In the latter stages, some symptoms of prostate cancer include:
These symptoms may not mean that you have prostate cancer. They can also be symptoms of other prostate problems. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms you should visit your GP.
Unfortunately having prostate removal surgery can come with side effects.
Some of these include increased risk of infection, damage to organs and erectile and sexual dysfunction.
More commonly, side-effects involve around the urinary system causing painful urination, difficulty urinating and urinary incontinence.
These problems usually go away after several months following the surgery.
Eating healthy before and after surgery is incredibly important. Eating a wholefoods diet, ensures you receive a wide range of antioxidants and other important nutrients.
Following an anti-inflammatory diet may be helpful. This includes increasing your consumption of healthy oils, fish, nuts, vegetables, fruit and herbs and decreasing your intake of saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, sugar, salt and processed foods.
Following this diet after surgery can aid in the healing and recovery process, helping to avoid complications.
Avoid foods that might irritate the bladder; this includes coffee, tea, tomato, alcohol, carbonated beverages, citrus and spicy foods.
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Many studies have found benefit in physiotherapy before and after prostate removal surgery. The pelvic floor muscles are important to control the bladder and the flow of urine. They act like a hammock from the tailbone at the back, to the pubic bone in front. Exercising these muscles have been shown to reduce the incidence, duration and severity of urinary incontinence. Physiotherapy can be commenced once the catheter has been removed and should be continued on a daily, long-term basis.
To find these muscles, sit or lie down with all your muscles relaxed. Now squeeze the ring of muscles around the back passage, as if you were trying to stop passing wind. Also, when you urinate, contracting these muscles should stop the flow of urine. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia recommends that you practice these exercises in a set 2-3 times a day. Tighten and hold the contraction for 5 seconds while you breathe and then relax for 5 seconds. Repeat this exercise 5-10 times in a set. Following surgery you may not be able to hold for a full 5 seconds so hold for a shorter time.
The prostate Cancer Foundation also recommends at least 30 minutes of daily aerobic exercise before surgery to help you bounce back faster.
Keep in mind that you should only do what you can manage and you could also begin with 10 minute blocks.
They also suggest that you combine this with strength/resistance training, aimed at strengthening different major muscle groups in the body.
Again, start off with light weights with 1-2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Following the surgery, very light walking such as slow walking is what is recommended.
In conjunction with physiotherapy certain herbs and nutrients can help improve bladder function and prevent infection. These herbs include dandelion leaf, astragalus, nettle leaf and a blend of three traditional Chinese herbs—China root, cherokee rose and Japanese climbing fern. These herbs could be taken before surgery to help protect the prostate and afterwards to improve bladder function. Saw palmetto is another popular herb, proven to be effective for prostate problems, particularly in cancer of the prostate. However, one study showed if taken before prostate surgery saw palmetto significantly reduced complications during and after the procedure.
Other herbs that might be useful include horsetail, a rich source of naturally occurring silica—an important mineral for connective tissue, such as that of the bladder. Silica can also be taken by itself for a stronger dose.
To prevent infection after surgery and to promote repair and healing consider taking a zinc supplement. Ideally this can be taken leading up to the surgery and for several months after. Zinc can also be found in the diet in a wide range of foods including mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, seafood, spinach, sunflower seeds and wholegrains. Zinc could also be combined with vitamin C for further immune and wound healing support.
Tienforti D, et al. Efficacy of an assisted low-intensity programme of perioperative pelvic floor muscle training in improving the recovery of continence after radical prostatectomy: a randomized controlled trial. BJU Int. 2012 Oct;110(7):1004-10
Anceschi R, et al. Serenoa repens (Permixon®) reduces intra-and postoperative complications of surgical treatments of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Minerva Urol Nefrol. 2010 Sep;62(3):219-23