What is Prostate Gland and medical problems related to Prostate?
All men have a prostate, an apricot-sized, muscular gland that produces some of the
ingredients of semen. It sits just in front of the rectum and below the bladder.
Weighing around 1 ounce (30 grams), the prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis.
It is vital for the proper functioning of the male reproductive system.
There are a number of ways in which the prostate can cause medical problems,
- Prostate cancer - this is the most common form of cancer in males, affecting around 1 in 7 men during their lifetime.
Around 1 in 39 men die of prostate cancer.
- Enlarged prostate - also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), this affects almost all men aged 50 or over.
It makes it difficult to urinate and, in rare, serious cases, can prevent urination entirely. Most commonly, the enlargement occurs in the transition zone.
- Prostatitis - an inflammation of the prostate; this is sometimes caused by an infection.
The prostate and its function can be tested in a range of ways:
- Digital rectal examination - the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum and feels the prostate. This can detect lumps, nodules, and cancer.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) - blood tests can assess the levels of this protein. High levels indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer.
- Prostate biopsy - a needle inserted into the prostate via the rectum can take a sample of tissue to be tested in the lab.
- Prostate ultrasound - also called a transrectal ultrasound, a probe is inserted into the rectum, positioning it close to the prostate.
Sometimes a biopsy is taken at the same time.