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Patient Empowerment

Urologists Are A Critical Part Of A Man’s Health Team

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Dr. J. Curtis Nickel

President,
Canadian Urological Association

Men are notoriously bad at taking care of their health. It can be a challenge to get us to talk to our general practitioners sometimes, let alone a specialist. But, if we live long enough, if we want to live long enough, we’re all going to end up talking to a bunch of doctors in our lifetimes.

The specialist that men are perhaps the most reluctant to meet with is also one of the most important: a urologist. “Men are destined to develop at least one of the three common prostate diseases: prostatitis (infection, inflammation, and/or pain in the prostate), benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlargement of the prostate leading to bothersome and potentially dangerous urination symptoms), or prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men),” says Dr. J. Curtis Nickel, President of the Canadian Urological Association (CUA). “Your urologist will be the doctor who either diagnoses or confirms the diagnosis and is most responsible for treating it.”

One of the oldest and most successful medical specialties

And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wide swath of illnesses and conditions a urologist can help men with. From kidney stones to testosterone deficiency to urinary incontinence to erectile dysfunction, urologists hold the knowledge, the expertise, and oftentimes the cure to effectively treat these conditions. It’s a field with a long history of innovation, research, and incredible success.

“In ancient times, the first widespread successful surgery was in the field of urology,” says Dr. Nickel. “In recent times, the specialty has pioneered organ transplantation, was involved in the development of chemotherapy regimens for the first uniformly successful treatment of solid tumour cancers, introduced advanced robotic surgery as a standard operation, invented non-invasive shock wave therapy for kidney stones, developed minimally invasive keyhole surgery for kidney operations, and adapted new laser technology for surgical purposes. All these medical advances invented, developed, adapted, or propagated by the urological community are now in common use by many other surgical disciplines.”

Many of the problems that bring you to a urologist may be embarrassing, but you can rest assured they are not embarrassing to the urologist.

With a track record like this, you can’t help but feel that a urologist should be the specialist you are most eager to talk with, rather than most reluctant. Yes, many of the problems that might first bring you to a urologist may be embarrassing, but you can rest assured they are not embarrassing to the urologist. And, these are conditions with great prognoses — for those who seek treatment.

For all these reasons, if we are going to combat the plague of health care avoidance among Canadian men, urology may be exactly the right place to start. If men can bite the bullet and ask their doctors to refer them to a urologist, then seeing a cardiologist or a neurologist might suddenly seem a lot less intimidating.

Canadian men must educate themselves, for their own sake

Importantly, the value of talking to a specialist can be at its greatest when symptoms are mildest. The urology community has been actively spearheading the concept of promoting men’s health before they develop clinical problems. That’s why the CUA strongly recommends all men — even those without symptoms — take the time to visit the Patient Information section of their website to educate themselves about the discipline, and how urologists can help.

“When it’s your time to meet your local urologist, you will have some understanding of the profession and what part he or she plays as a member of your medical team,” says Dr. Nickel. “Your urologist will be there when you need specialized urological care. You can count on us.”

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