I am Martin Stevens and I have Chronic Prostatitis. I was diagnosed with the disease at the age of 16, in
about a year after recovering from a urinary tract infection and well before I was sexually active. At first, antibiotics relieved my symptoms, however, episodes were recurring about every 18 months to two years. As I grew older, these episodes became more frequent and more intense.
I flew more than 100 missions as a pilot in Vietnam and I remember wondering on several of my sorties, whether the pain I was enduring while sitting in the cockpit would interfere with completing my mission.
I would like to share with you what it is like to have Chronic Prostatitis. I wake up each and every morning with low back pain. I have moderate pain when voiding and can never seem to void completely. This is why I have to make frequent visits to the bathroom during the day, and at least once during the night. There is always a sense of great urgency when I have to void.
I have spent many a day, sitting in a hot bathtub in order to get relief from the pain deep within my pelvic area. Most over the counter drugs provide just temporary pain relief Prescription drugs would disquality me from performing my job, besides, most sufferers report getting hooked on those drugs after just a short time of use. Even my marriage has been severely affected by this disease because of the moderate to severe pain that accompanies intercourse.
Since my initial diagnosis I have seen over
different Urologists, spent thousands of dollars on drugs, doctor bills and traveling, not including the loss of work caused by incapacitation. I have sought medical care abroad living for more than two months in a Third World country where there were rumors of a possible cure.
While abroad, I met many Americans afflicted with Prostatitis. They all had very similar stories regarding the progress of their disease especially regarding the treatment received in America. Many of them were so upset that they held their personal physicians responsible for their condition. There is no standard of treatment for Prostatitis. Most Urologists give antibiotics without properly culturing the patient in order to determine the proper antibiotics to use. In time, most antibiotics become ineffective against the disease as a result of resistance. The Urological community is not only split on the causes of the disease but also its management. That is why finding the cause of this disease is so important. The cure rate for American patients seeking help in the overseas community I visited was dismal, just as it is in the United States. Additionally, my medical insurance company refused payment for any of the treatments or drugs I received overseas, because they considered it experimental. I returned home quite depressed to say the least. Psychologically, I have learned to cope with the ramifications of the disease with the help of counseling.
To top this all off, both my sons, Mark and Danny were diagnosed with Prostatitis at ages 16 and 17 respectively. Their diagnosis was also made before they were sexually active! Dr. Attila Toth, M.D., a fertilization specialist and director of the MacLeod laboratory in New York City first brought the possible familial aspect of this disease to my attention. He was of the opinion that prostatitis was a bacterial or viral infection that could be carried into the egg by the sperm during the fertilization process and for unknown reasons, not express itself until adolescence when the prostate begins its growing process. Clearly more research needs to be done to get the answers we need to understand and treat this disease.
The Internet News Groups are full of horror stories from fellow sufferers desperately seeking advice regarding what doctors to see, what medicines or therapies to try in order to get cured or find some relief from this disease. Many of these victims have gone to the professional journals as I have and gained an enormous amount of information on this subject. In fact, many prostatitis patients know as much as, or more than the doctors who are treating them.
Many years ago, it was thought that Ulcers were caused by psychological problems. Today, we know that the bacteria Helicabacter Pylon is the culprit in the majority of cases. Moreover, this bacterium has now been implicated in Adenocarcinoma (cancer of the GI tract). In other words, a bacterium caused the development of a cancer. It would be less than a coincidence if our researchers were to find that the same mechanism ie. a bacterial infection, at play, in the development of prostate cancer. Is it possible that underlying each and every case of prostate cancer there was a case of prostatitis, silent or otherwise? Can you imagine the ramifications of such a discovery? There's only one way to find this answer and in addition stop the needless suffering or loss of life that, at some time or other, will impact nearly two thirds of the male population of this country. That way is through research, research and more research until we find the answers and create the cure.
On behalf of all those men who's lives have been adversely affected by diseases of the prostate, I want to sincerely thank you and the members of this committee for your past support of the NIH in their search for clues to solving this mystery. Continuing this support is absolutely essential to solving this debilitating disease.
Martin A. Stevens