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Back To Vidyya Most Americans Uninformed About Prostate Disease That Affects One in Two Men, Survey Reveals

Women More Knowlegeable Than Men

A National Survey released today showed that only 15 percent of Americans have heard of prostatitis, a sometimes serious and often painful condition that will affect more than half of the male population at some point in their lives. Surprisingly, of those Americans who claimed to be knowledgeable about this disease, 16 percent believe that women and men were both affected by prostatitis. The survey reveals that most Americans lack knowledge of this common illness and that women, by a margin of nearly 20 percent, consider themselves either somewhat or very knowledgeable about this exclusively male disease.(i)

In response to these results, the survey sponsors -- the American Foundation for Urologic Disease (AFUD), the Men's Health Network (MHN), and Bayer Corporation -- are launching a national partnership to educate consumers about prostatitis. Through the partnership, consumers can call the Bayer toll-free line at 800-206-6300 to obtain a free brochure about prostatitis, its symptoms, diagnostic tests, and available treatments. Consumers can also obtain information including a self-quiz and fact sheet about prostatitis via the Internet at or

"Men suffering with prostatitis often don't know what hit them, and may be reluctant to talk about it because of the fear factor," said Tom Bruckman, of the American Foundation for Urologic Disease. "Our goal is to get men talking about this illness -- with their doctors, with their wives, or with their friends -- so they can find the best treatment, feel better, and resume daily activities and a healthy sex life."

Of those respondents who considered themselves knowledgeable about this condition, 83 percent believe prostatitis is a warning symptom or leading indicator of prostate cancer. "Men who begin experiencing prostate problems often fear the worst -- prostate cancer," said Jean Bonhomme, M.D., MPH, of the Men's Health Network. "This fear can be paralyzing and in some cases may prevent men from seeing a doctor. We're hoping to alleviate some of these fears and inform men that not all prostate conditions are pre-cancerous. However, since the symptoms are similar, prompt medical attention is necessary to obtain a correct diagnosis."

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. Symptoms may include fever, chills, urgent, burning, or painful urination and pain in the lower back and genital area (ii). These symptoms can become severe and may require hospitalization.

While the incidence increases with age, prostatitis can affect young and middle-aged men as well (iii). Although prostatitis is not a contagious disease, bacteria contained in semen could be transmitted to a partner during sexual intercourse. Infections by bacteria or other organisms are sometimes the cause of the prostatic inflammation (iv). When the cause is bacterial, prostatitis may be successfully treated with antibiotics. Bayer makes a leading antibiotic, CIPRO(R) (ciprofloxacin HCl), used in the treatment of chronic bacterial prostatitis.

"Men have suffered quietly from prostatitis for too long," said Deborah Church, M.D., of Bayer Corporation, Director, Antiinfectives Medical Research.

"It is important for them to know that effective treatments exist and that they can get relief from their symptoms by following the prescribed regimen. Through this partnership, Bayer is committed to improving men's health and has a portfolio of products. In addition to Bayer's antibiotic, other products for men's health include a screening device for prostate cancer, a saw palmetto supplement for prostate health, and palliative treatment for advanced prostate cancer."

Survey Results Show Lack of Awareness

The telephone survey, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide, included 1,002 participants aged 18 and older. The vast majority, approximately 84 percent, said they had never heard of prostatitis. Of the remaining respondents, 45 percent said they were "somewhat" knowledgeable and 13 percent said they were "very" knowledgeable. Yet, among those who claimed to be either somewhat or very knowledgeable, many respondents answered specific questions about the condition incorrectly.

For example, only 17 percent of those with some knowledge of prostatitis know that about 50 percent of men will have prostatitis in their lifetime. Nearly half (43 percent) think that 1 in 20 men will be affected, while the remainder believe that only 1 in 100 or 1 in 1,000 men will suffer from prostatitis. In addition, 16 percent of those with some knowledge of prostatitis incorrectly believe that both men and women can develop prostatitis.

Further, while 60 percent of those with knowledge of prostatitis know that antibiotics are used to treat prostatitis, many also falsely believe that surgery (58 percent) and chemotherapy (39 percent) are appropriate treatments for the condition.

Understanding Prostatitis

There are three kinds of prostatitis: acute bacterial, chronic bacterial and chronic nonbacterial. Acute bacterial prostatitis comes on suddenly and can have severe symptoms that may require hospitalization, whereas chronic bacterial prostatitis may have no symptoms other than those of a recurring bladder infection. Bacterial prostatitis can be treated with antibiotics (v).

The causes of nonbacterial prostatitis are unknown, but the inflammation may be related to organisms other than bacteria (vi). Since the cause of infection is nonbacterial, antibiotics are not appropriate for this type of prostatitis. Most treatments focus on alleviating the symptoms associated with the disorder. These treatments include warm tub baths and an increase of fluids (while avoiding fluids that irritate the bladder, such as alcohol, caffeine, and citrus juices).

In some instances, men receive no treatment for prostatitis because they are reluctant to seek medical attention. Among survey participants, about half (46 percent) believed that a prostate exam was "painful or embarrassing."

The diagnosis of prostatitis includes evaluation of symptoms, a digital rectal exam (DRE) to determine the size, shape, and texture of the prostate, and evaluation of prostate, fluids, and urine for signs of infection (vii). While the examination can cause momentary discomfort, it is usually not painful.

The American Urological Association recommends a yearly prostate examination for every man over age 40 and an immediate exam for any man who develops persistent urinary symptoms. Among male survey respondents under age 55, nearly two-thirds don't schedule a regular urological exam (viii).

  • i. Prostatitis Survey, Wirthlin Worldwide. August 2000.
  • ii. "What are the Symptoms of Prostatitis" American Foundation for Urologic Disease. Web site text.
  • iii. National Health Institutes of Health: NIH to Study Common Prostate Condition, Oct. 2, 1998.
  • iv. Prostatitis: Patient Education. AACU/ Bayer 1999.
  • v. "What are the Symptoms of Prostatitis" American Foundation for Urologic Disease. Web site text.
  • vi. Prostatitis: Patient Education. AACU/ Bayer 1999.
  • vii. Ibid.
  • viii. Prostatitis Survey, Wirthlin Worldwide. August 2000.

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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