GPs to be trained to spot enlarged prostates

SINGAPORE - General practitioners (GPs) here are to be trained and given tools to help them spot enlarged prostates in an early intervention drive that will help more Singaporean men avoid surgery in the long run.

The Singapore Urological Association (SUA) is training GPs to use the International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) - a questionnaire which helps detect Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also called enlarged prostate.

Consisting of eight questions, the questionnaire can assess the severity and degree of lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

These symptoms are suggestive of an enlarged prostate, and if left untreated, may lead to a need for surgery.

Enlarge prostate is a fast growing problem in Singapore as the population ages. In Singapore, nearly 50 per cent of men above 50 years old have a history of BPH.

This goes up to nearly 90 per cent for those above 80 years of age.

Despite yearly public education to encourage men to go for early diagnosis and treatment, SUA president Dr Michael Wong said that Singapore's ageing men are still failing to do this.

"Ageing women suffer from menopause but know to consult their doctors early on," he said.

"But for most ageing men, tragically, most will bury their heads in denial and refuse to consult their doctors until the condition has far advanced," he explained.

Most men consult their doctors when their symptoms become bothersome, such as straining, intermittency, dribbling, incomplete emptying and weak stream in their urinary flow, he added.

Dr Lim Kok Bin, Organising Chair of Urofair 2012, also highlighted the need for early consultation, saying that delaying treatment can affect a man's sexual intimacy with his wife, thus risking his marriage.

Dr Lim said the initiative will also spare hospitals from being burdened.

Dr Wong said that if detected early, BPH patients will benefit from non-invasive medical treatment such as treatments to reduce the size of the prostate or with alpha-blockers that relax the prostate.

Medical advancements mean there are treatments which can provide relief, better urinary flow and improve the quality of life in men with moderate to severe lower urinary tract symptoms.

It also reduces the risk of acute urinary retention and the need for surgery.

yamadak@sph.com.sg

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