Two area physicians are part of a study group formed to help improve care for benign prostate disease in West Virginia.
The study group, which includes Dr. Douglas McKinney of Bridgeport and Dr. Carlos Naranjo of Clarksburg, is charged with the responsibility of identifying variations of treatments in benign prostate disease so strategies can be identified to improve care, according to a statement released by the West Virginia Hospital Association.
McKinney, president and chairman of the West Virginia Urological Society, said benign prostate disease affects about 50 percent of men at some point in their lives and is most prevalent among men in their late 50s or early 60s.
It is caused by enlargement of the prostate gland that partially pinches off the urinary tract. Symptoms include frequent urination, frequent urge to urinate, getting up in the middle of the night to urinate and diminution of the urinary stream.
The symptoms may be aggravated by caffeine, alcohol and spicy foods, McKinney said.
"It's a quality of life kind of problem. If left untreated, it can cause kidney failure, but most people seek treatment before that stage because they're uncomfortable," McKinney said.
McKinney added, however, that benign prostate disease has no connection to prostate cancer.
The study is being done because the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care has identified wide variations in the way the disease is treated.
"Surgery used to be the most common form of treatment, but the development of drugs that relax the prostate have decreased surgical treatments," McKinney said. "But in some areas, surgery is used a lot more than it is in other areas."
The study will primarily consist of a survey of state physicians to gather information about the treatment options they use, McKinney said.
"We're not trying to throw rocks at people for what they're doing," he said. "The main thing about it is it will allow individual physicians to measure their performance against peers around the state. If you have the same patient population and you're doing twice as many surgeries as other physicians, maybe you're being too aggressive."
Naranjo added that another important aspect of the study is to make sure that patients who are being treated for benign prostate disease are also being screened for prostate cancer. While the two diseases are not related, it is possible for a patient to have both at the same time.
"Most of the time we use medical (medication) treatments first, then use surgery if it's not effective," Naranjo said. "The important thing is to make sure we're using the appropriate treatment."
Staff writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442.