Plain talk on prostate cancer, perimenopause and cataracts
Q. What are the options for treating prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among American men.
Treatment for prostate cancer works best when the disease is found early.
There are many options for treating prostate cancer:
• Observation. If the cancer is growing slowly, you may decide to wait and watch.
• Hormone therapy. This stops cancer cells from growing.
• Surgery. There are several surgical options. These include radical prostatectomy or removal of the entire prostate, cryosurgery that kills the cancer by freezing it, radiation therapy to shrink tumors, and implant radiation that places radioactive seeds into the prostate.
Surgery can lead to impotence and incontinence. Improvements in surgery now make possible for some men to keep their sexual function.
Q. What exactly is perimenopause?
The process of reproductive aging begins around age 40. Declining levels of the hormones estrogen and progesterone change a woman's periods. These hormones maintain the health of the vagina and uterus, and regulate the menstrual cycles
Menopausal transition, called perimenopause, is the time when a woman's body is close to menopause. Periods may become irregular. A woman may start to feel hot flashes and night sweats.
Perimenopause usually begins about 2 to 4 years before the last menstrual period. It ends when menopause begins. A woman reaches menopause when a year has passed since her last period.
Postmenopause follows menopause and lasts the remainder of a woman's life. Pregnancy is no longer possible. There may be symptoms such as vaginal dryness long after menopause.
Q. I'm 67 years old. Should I expect to get cataracts eventually?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens, the clear part of the eye that helps focus images like the lens in a camera.
Most cataracts are related to aging. By 80, more than half of all Americans have a cataract or have had cataract surgery. There are other causes of cataracts such as diabetes, eye injury, radiation and surgery for other eye problems.
Cataracts tend to worsen gradually. The clear lens slowly changes to a yellowish/brownish color, adding a brownish tint to vision. If you have advanced lens discoloration, you may not be able to identify blues and purples.
The most common symptoms of a cataract are: blurred images, faded colors, glare, poor night vision, double vision, and frequent prescription changes in your eyeglasses or contact lenses. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor, as they can be signs of other eye problems.
If you are 60 or older, you should have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once every two years. In addition to cataract, your eye-care professional can check for signs of age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other vision disorders. Early treatment for many eye diseases may save your sight.
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