Dr Barbara Vischioni - Medical Director
November has been the month of men's health with awareness campaigns in Italy and around the world. Which are the most common diseases that affect male?
In the fields of urology, the most common examples are, the inflammation of the urogenital apparatus organs or in other cases, varicocele which affects young men. This is an indolent tumour but if it is not treated it can lead to infertility. In the case of the sexually transmitted diseases, it must be taken attention to sexual habits: in fact, the use of condom can limit contagion and its more serious consequences (for example cancer caused by the infection of papillomavirus or to prevent the contagion of human immunodeficiency virus HIV). Then, there are tumours of the male genital system: the most frequent cases are prostate, testicles and bladder, where the early diagnose can make a difference and increase the possibilities of cure.
What can be done to prevent it?
It should be paid attention to the signals that appear in the body and to identify any anatomic variation like the appearance of nodules or swellings, but also changes in the habits related to the urogenital domain (pain, discomfort, urinary frequency, erectile functionality and ejaculation). In any of the cases, report them to your primary care doctor as soon as possible for a correct evaluation and a further evaluation by an urologist in case it is deemed necessary. The secret of the cure is therefore the correct and constant communication (from early adolescence to adulthood) with your primary care doctor. The presence of blood in the urine, for example, is an event that must always be communicated to the doctor. After a clinical examination, he will decide if further examinations or visiting an specialist is required.
Prostate cancer is one of the most frequent male disease. Are there any innovative methods to treat it?
Prostate cancer is very common among men 50+. There are not any specific symptoms to be able to identify it. The correct clinical evaluation is carried out by the specialist by means of specific exams. The most common symptoms to consult your primary care doctor are the same mentioned in the cases of urogenital diseases not related to cancer: weak urine stream, frequent need to urinate, both during the day and at night, urinary incontinence, pain when urinating, presence of blood in the urine. An early diagnose of prostate cancer is essential, since with all the therapeutic resources at hand the cure of the tumour in the initial stage is guaranteed.
Approximately 70% of patients with new prostate carcinoma diagnosis already has a localised disease. Conventionally, the treatment options for the prostate cancer include: surgical intervention (radical prostatectomy), external radiotherapy, brachytherapy ( "internal radiotherapy") and active monitoring.
At CNAO for high-risk prostate cancer treatment (clinically well defined but in plain words it consists on the disease of the prostate but there is a high probability of spreading to nearby organs), we have experimental protocols that involve the use of hadrontherapy and carbon ions.
The first treatment experience with carbon ions on prostate cancer so far is Japanese (information available in scientific papers). In Japan, carbon ions have been available at the NIRS (National Institute for Radiological Sciences) in Chiba (Tokyo) for over 15 years with very high effectiveness rates and local control and low toxicity risk.