Busting the Top Five Myths about Urology

GHSH Website Question Homepage Banner Kidney Cancer 961 x 300In the world of medicine and health, the line between fact and fiction can be blurry and hard to read. Thanks to the prevalence of online communities, with many trusting their health to “Dr. Google,” it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not.

It’s especially tempting to turn to the internet when faced with more private conditions, such as urological problems. But it’s just as important to seek professional help for these conditions as it is for any other.

We’ve partnered with the physicians who provide care to our patients through Memorial Medical Center ‘s Urology Services program to bust common myths about urology and answer questions facing countless men–and women (consider this a bonus busted myth: urological problems don’t just affect men!).

Myth 1: If you have kidney cancer, the entire kidney must be removed.

Fact: Not all kidney masses require the entire kidney to be removed.

According to Shaheen Alanee, MD, urologist with SIU HealthCare, removing the entire kidney used to be the standard for kidney masses. While total removal may still be necessary at times, it is possible to remove a small portion of the kidney and the mass without removing the entire organ, depending upon the location and size of the mass. It is important for patients to discuss all treatment options with their surgeons so they can collaboratively decide the best treatment for them.

According to David Lieber, MD, a urologist with Springfield Clinic, physicians may be able to help preserve kidney tissue and thus protect function by offering treatment options like renal cryotherapy or robot-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy.

Myth 2: Leaking urine only affects women who have had children.  

Fact: The fact is both men and women can leak urine. The biggest barrier to treating this issue is getting people to discuss this symptom with their doctor because they feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about it.

“There are many treatments for urinary leakage, but we cannot help if you do not talk about it,” said Ahmed El-Zawahry, MD, a urologist with SIU HealthCare. “Both men and women should reach out to their primary care providers or urologists to discuss their symptoms and treatment options.”

Thomas Baron, MD, a urologist with Springfield Clinic, said there are plenty of options for those facing this problem.

“The most important thing is to identify the cause,” he said. “This then dictates what type of treatments we can offer the patient. We can change many patients’ lives by helping them with medications, biofeedback, pelvic floor stimulation and minor surgical procedures.”

Myth 3: That famous little blue pill is the only treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Fact: There are many treatment options besides Viagra and similar medications for men living with erectile dysfunction.

In addition to oral medications, Dr. Baron said other treatments exist, such as penile injections, penile pumps or penile prosthesis.

“If you are healthy enough to climb a flight of stairs, your erectile dysfunction can successfully be treated,” said Tobias Kohler, MD, a urologist with SIU Healthcare.  “Don’t just sit at home and do nothing about this. Talk to your physician about it so we can help.”

Myth 4: It is impossible to have children after being treated for cancer.  

Fact: By talking with your oncologist or primary care physician before starting any cancer treatments, it is possible to preserve the option to have children.

“We offer a comprehensive approach for both male and female cancer patients who wish for the opportunity to  have a child after their treatments, and we can provide state-of-the-art sperm or egg banking right here in Springfield,” Dr. Kohler said. “Most people focus on their survival and the treatments they are getting that day. Many people do well, and by reaching out to us ahead of time, we can help them preserve the option of starting a family.”

Myth 5: Increased trips to the bathroom at night are just a normal part of male aging. 

Fact: Turns out, this one isn’t normal at all. Although problems with urination are common as men age, this is not something men should tolerate.  

“As men age, their prostates grow. This can make it hard to urinate,” said Herbert J. Wiser, MD, a urologist with Springfield Clinic. “As the prostate tissue grows, it can grow into the urethra or around it and cause the bladder to have to work harder to empty. Sometimes it doesn’t empty completely and this can cause the frequency of urination symptom.”

According to Dr. Wiser, there are many medications that can help with symptoms and if those are not effective, there are surgical options, including the Green Light Laser procedure.

According to Kevin McVary, MD, chair of the Division of Urology at SIU Healthcare, there are three categories of treatment for enlarged prostate. The first is discussing lifestyle changes, such as restricting fluids in the evening. The second is medications that relax or shrink the prostate to allow for more efficient urination. Lastly, there are surgical interventions. There is minimally invasive surgery with the laser to vaporize the prostate tissue, or there are traditional surgical treatments known as the TURP or resection of the prostate.