Did you know that in America:
- 1 in 4 men have prostate cancer by age 50.
- 38,000 men have their prostate removed by surgery or radiation each year.
- 40,000 men die from prostate cancer each year.
Most people believe that prostate problems are inevitable as a male ages. Is this true? No, not if you are educated. Even though, most men do not experience prostate problems until they are older, they can arise. It is never too early to learn about something that could have detrimental effects on your health.
What Is The Prostate?
The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut, in adults, that surrounds the urethra. It is found below the bladder, between the rectum and pubic bone. The prostate gland is divided into four zones: anterior fibromuscular stroma, peripheral zone, central zone, and transition zone. The prostate gland is an integral part of the male reproductive system.
It creates about 25% of the seminal fluid released during ejaculation. It also lubricates the urethra, which protects it from infections.
Diseases of the Prostate
Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH)
When a male is born, his prostate is very small, about the size of a single grain of wheat. The size of the prostate stays relatively constant until puberty when it begins to grow. This growth continues until around the age of 21. From this point until about the age 40, the prostate again remains relatively the same size. At around the age of 40, men experience hormonal changes that cause the prostate to grow again. In some cases, the prostate can grow very large. This is called Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH).
Because the prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that transports urine from the bladder, enlargement of this gland can cause problems urinating. One way of illustrating the effect this enlargement has is with a hose. If you squeeze the hose, water has a hard time coming out. When the prostate becomes enlarged, the force of the urinary system is decreased. This decrease in force means that one will have to exert more force or "push" harder to urinate. It also gives some the feeling of being that the bladder is never empty, which causes frequent unneeded trips to the bathroom.
Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate. Symptoms include:
- Swelling of the prostate.
- Lower back pain.
- Pain with ejaculation.
- Painful (burning) urination.
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Blood in the urine.
Unlike BPH, age is not a factor with Prostatitis. It can affect a male at any age. Prostatitis can be either acute, rapid onset and a relatively short course, or chronic, persist over a long period of time. It can also be bacteria or nonbacterial.
Prostate cancer develops when part, one of the zones, of the prostate does not stop growing. This part of the prostate eventually becomes a tumor. When this tumor comes into contact with a blood vessel, pieces of the tumor can be carried throughout the blood and deposited elsewhere, causing the cancer to spread.
Prostate Cancer Facts
- Over 170,000 cases of Prostate cancer diagnosed in 1999.
- Over 35,000 deaths from Prostate cancer in 1999.
- Can occur at any age, but most common over the age of 50.
- Twice as common in African-American Men.
- 89% of those with diagnosed prostate cancer live longer than 5 years after diagnosis.
- 63% of those with diagnosed prostate cancer live longer than 10 years after diagnosis.
- If found before it spreads outside the prostate gland, then survival approaches 100%.
- If prostate cancer is found to have spread to the tissues surrounding the prostate gland, then survival is approximately 94%.
- If prostate cancer has spread to areas distant to the prostate, then the survival rate is approx. 30% after 5 years.
- There is an approximate 10% increase in your chances of getting prostate cancer if another male in you family has had it.
- The older you are the greater your chance for prostate cancer.
- High fat diet is believed to be associated with an increase in prostate cancer.
It is recommend that men get an annual rectal examination starting in their 40's. In this examination, a physician will examine your prostate with his finger; he will be wearing a rubber glove. The physician will be able to feel the prostate through the bowel wall. He will be looking for any lumps or abnormal textures.
Another method used is a blood test that measures the concentration of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) in the blood. The prostate normally makes PSA, but if cancer exists, PSA levels will be elevated.
The only FDA approved medication to shrink the prostate.
Hytrin and Cardura
These medications work by relaxing the smooth muscle of the prostate. This relieves some of the pressure of an enlarged prostate against the urethra.
This involves having part or your entire prostate removed. There are a few different methods of surgery used.
Laser, Microwave, and Hyperthermia Therapy
Rather new forms of therapy currently being studied. So far, these techniques look promising.
There are various "natural" ways to treat and even help prevent these conditions from developing. We will take a look at those in the next article.