WHAT IS THE PROSTATE?
The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system and is closely related to the urinary system. It produces and stores seminal fluid, a milky fluid that nourishes sperm.
The testicles in addition to manufacturing sperm, also produce the male sex hormone called testosterone which controls the growth and function of the prostate.
WHAT CAN GO WRONG WITH MY PROSTATE?
As a man grows older, the prostate gland frequently becomes a source of trouble. The three most common prostate problems are
- Prostate enlargement(benign prostatic hyperplasia/BPH)
- Prostate cancer.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS FOR DEVELOPING PROSTATE CANCER?
The causes of prostate cancer are not well understood.
- Age: Prostate cancer is found mainly in men over 55 years.
- Family history of prostate cancer
- Race: This disease is more common in African men than white men.
- Diet high in animal fat may increase the risk of prostate cancer and a diet in fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE DISEASE?
When prostate disease is in its earliest stages, it often causes no symptoms. It usually grows slowly and symptoms do not appear for years.
- A need to urinate frequently
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine.
- Inability to urinate
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Low back (waist) pain in prostate cancer
HOW CAN PROSTATE DISEASE BE DETECTED?
It is extremely important that men over the age of 50 get tested for the disease
For men with increased risk screening can start at age 40 otherwise it is delayed till 50.
WHAT TESTS COULD BE DONE?
- Digital Rectal examination (DRE)
Your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel the size, shape and texture of the prostate.
- Blood test (PSA)
The normal range for the PSA level is 0 to 4.0ng/ml. Regardless of age and race, PSA levels greater than 10 ng/ML are suspicious for prostate cancer.
- Prostate biopsy
Prostate biopsy is always needed to confirm the diagnosis of cancer.
- Pelvic ultrasound or Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
It is sometimes used along with DRE and PSA to diagnose prostate abnormalities.
TREATMENT OF PROSTATE DISEASES
- Benign enlargement of the prostate (BPH) can be treated with either drugs or surgery (removal of the prostate). Even after treatment for benign enlargement one may still develop prostate cancer later in life hence the need to keep checking his PSA routinely.
- Inflammation of the Prostate (Prostatitis) is treated with long courses of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs
Prostate Cancer treatment depends on the stage of the disease (whether early or advanced)
- Surgery in which the entire prostate gland is removed if the cancer has not spread.
- Radiation therapy, in which high-energy rays or particles are used to kill cancer cells
- Hormone therapy, which lowers the levels of male hormones.
- Chemotherapy for patients whose cancer has spread outside the prostate and for whom hormone therapy has not been effective.
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