The Prostate gland is found situated below the bladder and behind and encircling the urethra the outlet tube from the bladder and between it and the rectum. Its function appears mainly to supply nutritional secretions to the testicles for the formation of sperm.
It is normal for most men over the age of 60 to have an enlargement of the prostate, relating to changes in hormonal levels, and these enlargements are nearly always benign.
By the time a man has reached 80 years of age it is nearly always possible to detect cancer cells in the prostate but only a small percentage will develop the disease.
Symptoms of prostate problems stem from the constricting affect it can have on the urethra, reducing the flow of urine and causing urine retention and associated bladder infections.
It is possible to make a physical examination by feeling via the rectum to assess if the prostate is enlarged, and also feel the surface. A smooth prostate is normally benign, whereas a lumpy one must be considered cancerous and further tests carried out. These further tests will include a needle biopsy of the prostate tissue, again obtained via the rectum.
Nowadays very sophisticated ultrasound imaging has proved valuable. Blood levels detecting the PSA (prostate specific antigen) with high levels indicate the likelihood of cancer. Treatment depends on each individual case and whether the cancer has been detected early enough or whether it has unfortunately spread to other sites.
There are two types of treatment. One involves radiotherapy, the other involves surgically removing the prostate gland (radical prostatectomy). The drawbacks of both are the risks of erectile dysfunction, in surgery damage can be done to the nerve fibres and muscle at the neck of the bladder causing a problem of incontinence.
Additional Medical Conditions: