The prostate is a cherry sized gland located between the bladder and the penis. The prostate is just in front of the rectum (anal path). The urethra (urine pipe) runs through the center of the prostate, from the bladder to the penis, letting urine flow out of the body. The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm. During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra and it’s expelled with sperm as semen. Lately a lot is being said about the prostate gland, a lot of myths are flying around but little truth is actually heard.
Here’s an attempt to clear away the cobwebs of myths. Diseases of the prostate can be broadly classified into three:
- Prostatitis: Inflammation of the prostate.
- Prostate Hyperplasia: Enlarged prostate.
- Prostate carcinoma: Prostate cancer
Inflammation of the prostate: It may be caused by bacterial infection with symptoms similar to urinary tract infection and can either be acute bacterial infection (treatment is relatively short term) or chronic bacterial infection (treatment is relatively long term).
Enlarged prostate: Enlargement of the prostate (Prostate Hyperplasia) is nearly universal in aging men. It usually begins by age 45 and causes urinary outflow obstruction. The disease state is called Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH). Medicines or surgery can treat BPH.
Prostate cancer: Symptoms are generally similar to and indistinguishable from those of prostate hyperplasia, but those with cancer more often have dysuria (painful or difficult urination) and back or hip pain. It’s the most common form of cancer in men (besides skin cancer), but only one in 35 men die from prostate cancer. Surgery, radiation, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy can be used to treat prostate cancer.
Tests for diagnosing prostate diseases:
1. The most common test is Digital Rectal examination (DRE): A doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum (through the anus) and feels the prostate. A DRE can sometimes detect an enlarged prostate, lumps or nodules of prostate cancer, or tenderness from prostatitis.
2. Prostate Ultrasound: An ultrasound probe is inserted into the rectum, bringing it close to the prostate. Ultrasound is often done with a biopsy to test for prostate cancer.
3. Prostate Biopsy: A needle is inserted into the prostate to take tissue out to check for prostate cancer. This is usually done through the rectum.
All the afore-mentioned procedures can only be carried out in a hospital so don’t ask your wife or girlfriend to examine you. As with any medical condition, early detection is key. Remember these signs to look out for: poor urine flow, urine flow accompanied by blood spots in urine, dribbling of urine after urination, dysuria (painful or difficult urination) accompanied with back or hip pain and if you’re of age i.e. > 45years.