The tube that is used to transport urine from the urinary bladder is called the urethra, this tube is surrounded in males by a walnut sized gland called the prostate gland, any impairment or problem with the prostate manifests itself in urinary difficulties or disorders together termed as prostate problems. The occurrence of a harmless form of prostatic disorder called a hyperplasia, or a prostate hypertrophy often termed BPH is the most common form of prostate disorder in men. It arises as a condition in men over the age of fifty, as a non-malignant enlargement or swelling of the prostate. While the likelihood of prostate cancer occurring in the individual is not connected to the condition, the disorder or swelling in the prostate itself may persist without any apparent symptoms over a period of years before it starts to cause any significant discomfort to the individual. The possibility of prostatitis which is an inflammation in the prostate gland and the possibility of cancer has to be examined by a medical practitioner as these conditions can possibly be present, and because they are far more serious conditions, one must make sure that adequate medical checks completely rule them out.
There is a connection between the enlargement of the prostate and aging in men, enlargement typically occurring in the gland, as the man gets older. There could be possible hormonal actions for the enlargement of the prostate gland caused by the male hormones, however the true causative reasons for the condition is unknown. BPH comes about whenever there is pressure against the urethra because of the enlarged prostate, the condition depending on severity of the degree of enlargement in the gland, as an extremely large prostate may restrict the flow of urine to a greater extent compared to a small prostate. A bacterial infection that is present somewhere else in the urinary tract of the man may lead to the more uncommon disorder typically called prostatitis which is much more severe in its affect on health, additionally prostate problems could be the underlying signs of prostate cancer in the affected individual. Urinary discharge and function is typically disrupted and serves as symptoms in these two conditions as well, these conditions also cause a swelling of the prostate either due to the tumor or because of infection.
The Most Common Prostate Problems
For such a little gland, the prostate seems to cause a lot of concern. Like a troubled, war-torn country, it’s in the news all the time and something always seems to be going wrong there, but you don’t really know where it is or why it’s important.
All men are at risk for prostate problems. That’s because all men have a prostate. Take a look at this overview of prostate problems to assess your risk for trouble with your prostate.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH, also known as an enlarged prostate, is growth of the prostate gland to an unhealthy size. A man’s chances of having BPH go up with age:
- Age 31-40: one in 12
- Age 51-60: about one in two
- Over age 80: more than eight in 10
However, only about half of men ever have BPH symptoms that need treatment. BPH does not lead to prostate cancer, although both are common in older men.
Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (besides skin cancer). About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Let’s keep these numbers in perspective, though. Because prostate cancer is usually slow growing, only about one in 35 men will die of prostate cancer.
Like BPH, the risk for prostate cancer increases with age. About two out of every three men with prostate cancer are over age 65. No one knows exactly what causes prostate cancer, but risk factors associated with it include:
- Family history. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles your risk.
- Race. African-American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than Caucasians, and the cancer is usually more advanced when discovered.
African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer usually begin prostate cancer screening at an earlier age than Caucasian men who do not have prostate cancer in their family history.
Prostatitis. Unlike most prostate problems, prostatitis — inflammation or an infection of the prostate — occurs more often in young and middle-aged men. Only 5% to 10% of men develop prostatitis in their lifetime.
The Prostate and Its Symptoms
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found only in men. It sits just below the bladder and surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine through the penis. The prostate’s job is to make fluid for semen.
The prostate grows naturally with age, usually without problems. In some men, the enlarged prostate compresses the urethra, making urination difficult and causing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH symptoms include:
- Urinating frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty getting a urine stream going
- Feeling as if you are unable to get all the urine out
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate, often caused by bacteria. Think of prostatitis as a type of men’s urinary tract infection. Prostate infection is rarely serious, but if you have symptoms of prostatitis, see your doctor. Possible symptoms include:
- Pain urinating or ejaculating
- Fever and chills
- Pelvic pain
- Needing to urinate more often
- Cloudy urine
Prostate cancer often has no symptoms. It is often discovered after screening with a lab test called prostate specific antigen (PSA). Occasionally, prostate cancer can cause obstruction of urine flow, like BPH. This symptom usually suggests more advanced prostate cancer.