Dr. Paul Martin, Dr. Alvaro Ramirez, and Dr. Dhiraj Dhanjani. (Photo courtesy of Bluewater Health)Dr. Paul Martin, Dr. Alvaro Ramirez, and Dr. Dhiraj Dhanjani. (Photo courtesy of Bluewater Health)

Prostate health promoted in Sarnia-Lambton

Bluewater Health and the hospital's foundation are aiming to support men's prostate health through medical advancements and a fundraiser.

Bluewater Health is the only hospital in southwestern Ontario to offer a transperineal prostate biopsy, which is a new technique to diagnose prostate cancer.

Urologist and Medical Director of Surgical and Ambulatory Care Dr. Alvaro Ramirez said the new technique differs from the classic approach of getting a prostate biopsy through the rectum, as a biopsy needle is instead passed through the perineal skin while the patient is under local anesthetic or sedation. The procedure is done within 10 to 15 minutes.

"We actually have referrals from our other partners in the region to do this procedure on some patients that don't want to have the transrectal approach or let's say if someone is immunocompromised and they are at risk of developing a complicated infection," Ramirez said.

The transperineal prostate biopsy is a "little to no risk" procedure that has been offered at Bluewater Health for about two and a half years.

The procedure is not offered at other nearby hospitals due to financial and time commitments. Ramirez and fellow urologists Dr. Paul Martin and Dr. Dhiraj Dhanjani adopted the new technique after being awarded an education grant from the Canadian Urological Association through Dr. Dhanjani.

"We were [also] fortunate to have the support of the community and our Bluewater Health Foundation where we were able to purchase a special transrectal probe and a new ultrasound machine," he said.

Requests have been made from other hospitals, clinics, and medical fairs to learn the technique from Bluewater Health's urologists. Ramirez said teaching the method to other specialists is something that will be considered in the future.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men.

"Unfortunately, when you have symptoms of prostate cancer, it's usually not early. You don't want to get to that point," said Ramirez. "Number one, get checked/ screened with blood tests and a rectal exam starting at the age of 45 if you have a family history of prostate cancer … or at the age of 50 if you don't have any family history."

If prostate cancer is detected early, Ramirez said the success rate is "excellent". He also said with an updated MRI machine at Bluewater Health, they're also able to reduce the number of unnecessary prostate biopsies.

Aside from getting screened, other tips for prostate health include the adoption of healthy lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and exercising regularly.

In order to raise awareness and funds for the hospital's Urology and Prostate Cancer Clinic, the Bluewater Health Foundation is hosting its annual Pints for Prostates event.

The fundraiser will be held at Sports, behind Refined Fool Brewing Co. on London Road, on November 27 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. The three urologists trained in the technique will be at the event to answer any questions guests may have.

The event, sponsored by Straight Edge Hair Designs and Fine Artscapes, will include a 50/50 draw and a cornhole tournament. Teams of four can register for the tournament at $40 per team by contacting Adelle Stewardson at AStewardson@bluewaterhealth.ca.

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