What is Prostate – Its Types and Symptoms?
Prostate issues are very common, especially among men above 50 years of age. The prostate is a small male gland, which is located between the bowel and the bladder. The prostate can double in size during puberty, because of the changes in the male hormone testosterone.
When the prostate increases* in size later in age, however, it is not normal. In fact, the most common issue connected with prostate is known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH); because of it, the prostate gland is increased in size. There is a great possibility that BPH can become malignant.
After diagnosis, the patient can undergo a variety of prostate treatments according to the type of prostate disorder.
What is The Prostate and its Size?
At the age of 60, men should be reaping the fruits of their labor. Unfortunately, this has just become too ideal for men these days; the issue being prostate problems. The incidence of prostatic diseases is on the rise.
The younger men are not at the risk of prostate disorders as compared to the older men. Hence, age is a crucial factor in the occurrence of prostate disorders and maintaining its health. Let’s take a look and have a deeper understanding of what bothers aging men the most.
The prostate gland is a donut-shaped male organ that lies below the urinary bladder and surrounds the urethra. A normal prostate gland measures about 3 cm or 1.2 inches across, and weighs about 20 g or nearly an ounce.
The primary function of this gland is to secrete a watery, milk-looking and slightly acidic prostatic fluid which constitutes about 30 % of the seminal fluid volume. The prostatic fluid plays an important role in sperm activation, viability, and motility, which are all needed in increasing* the chances of fertilization.
The prostate gland normally grows in size; this enlargement becomes more pronounced as men ages. Since this gland surrounds the urethra, which is the passageway for urine from the urinary bladder, it is very important that its normal size is maintained.
Consequently, the fact that the urethra passes through the small hole in the center of the prostate is a matter of considerable clinical significance. When the prostate disorders affect the functioning of the prostate, symptoms like pain during urination and erectile dysfunction may be noted. Other symptoms include lack of control of bladder function and blood in urine.
There are three common types of prostate gland disorder:
- Prostatitis: It is an inflammation caused by infection in the prostate gland. It causes irregular urination and pain. The prostatitis cancer symptoms may also include erectile dysfunction and blood in the urine.
- Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH): It is an enlargement of the prostate gland that results in some pressure on the urethra, and this interferes with normal urination.
- Prostate Cancer: It is a malignant growth of the gland.
How can a patient tell he may be suffering from a prostate problem? It is known that prostate gland surrounds the tube through which urine exits the body, so if enlarged it can interfere with urination. Also, you can have sleep disturbance because of frequent urination during night.
Because of the slow dribbling stream of urine suffered by patients, there can be a feeling as if the bladder is not emptied completely. It should be noted that most of the symptoms of prostate gland cancer are similar to those of BPH.
So, how to deal with prostate issues? There are several methods for prostate treatment. The prostate cancer treatment are most effective when carried out before the disease becomes severe.
What are the Disorders of Prostate?
Several prostate disorders afflict men of all ages. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common. This is a noncancerous condition characterized by the enlargement of the prostate gland from 20 g (1 ounce) to up to 150 g or 5.31 ounce. This problem has the highest incident rate among prostate problems occurring in approximately 70-80 % in men as they reach their 70s or 80s.
The enlargement of the prostate gland would eventually result in the partial or even complete constriction of the urethra; thereby, blocking the flow of urine from the urinary bladder. This is the reason why men who have BPH also complain of having urinary problems.
Prostate cancer is another issue that concerns men. It is considered the most common type of cancer in elderly men and the second most common cause of cancer-related death in men. What makes this more dilapidating is the fact that it does not present serious signs and symptoms meaning it could progress into dangerous stages without the patient even noticing it. Once prostate cancer becomes terminal, patients usually experience difficulty in urination and bleeding in the urinary tract. The worst consequence of prostate cancer would be its spread to distant areas which is common with this type of cancer in its later stages.
Another prostate disorder involves the inflammation of the prostate gland known as prostatitis. The contrasting characteristic of this disease is its predominance in younger men. It commonly afflicts men ages 20-50. It is basically classified into two types nonbacterial prostatitis and bacterial prostatitis. Nonbacterial prostatitis presents with pelvic pain, problems with urination and discomfort after ejaculation. There are several suggested causes of nonbacterial prostatitis including viruses, prostate muscle spasm, backflow of urine through the prostate ducts and even psychological disturbances.
Bacterial prostatitis on the other hand, is characterized by a bacterial infection of the prostate gland leading to inflammation. This may be sexually transmitted and causes swelling, pain, and difficulty in urination. The patient may release bacterial fluid and blood may appear in the urine.
If bacterial prostatitis is left untreated, it could lead to systemic infection causing a dangerously high fever. There are also instances wherein the infection cannot be completely eliminated even with antibiotic treatment and this could lead to a chronically infected prostate.
What are Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention of Prostate Problems?
Prostate disorders have a common denominator problem in urination. Some men actually think that difficulty in urination is but just a normal consequence of aging. This is true to a certain extent with aging comes a higher risk of contracting prostate disorders that eventually leads to difficulty in urination.
For benign prostate hypertrophy, there are various treatment options that may be employed. There are a lot of medications available in the market, which work to either shrink or relax the prostate gland muscles. In the event that less radical methods of treatment fail, the last resort would be the surgical removal of the excess prostate tissue.
This standard surgical procedure is known as the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). It employs the use of an endoscope, a tube that has a camera and a sharp instrument to cut away the excess prostate tissue.
Thousands of men who die each year from prostate cancer could have been saved if they were diagnosed early enough for treatment to be effective. In most cases, prostate cancer does not present with serious signs and symptoms, and can only be palpated once the disease has become terminal.
Therefore, many cancer experts highly encourage prostate cancer screening tests to be performed regularly especially for older men. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood analysis that is currently available as a screening test.
PSA is a tumor marker often found to be elevated in men with prostate cancer. Once prostate cancer is diagnosed, patients can undergo appropriate therapy depending on their stage. The earlier the prostate cancer treatment is carried out the higher the chances of full recovery and reversal of symptoms caused by the disease. Terminal prostate cancer may still be treated but not completely cured, that’s why early diagnosis is a key in the good prognosis of the patient.
Prostatitis is often treated with medications such as antibiotics and antispasmodics. However, the success of such treatments varies widely. The rate of success differs according to when the diagnosis was done and the stage at which the prostate treatment was carried out.
Since the risk of acquiring prostate disorders increases* with age, it is important to take care of the prostate gland early on. There are a lot of prostate supplements available over the counter, but it is also important to consider which of these would be effective. The men can also improve* prostate prevention by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. The key point here is to prevent the prostate gland from outgrowing itself; thus, maintaining its normal size.
What are The Types Prostate Problems?
1. Enlarged Prostate
Benign Prostatic Hyplerplasia (BPH), commonly known as enlarged prostate, is the increase* in size of the prostate due to the uncontrolled multiplying of prostate cells (especially connective and epithelial cells).
The cells are completely normal and function normally; It is common for older men to have an enlarged prostate, approximately 50% of the men above 50 years old present it and as the age progresses so does the frequency and severity. Frequent urination and lack of control of the bladder are some of the prostate cancer symptoms that may be experienced.
The problems that arise from having BPH arise because the prostate is a small gland that surrounds the urethra in the base of the bladder; the increase* in size causes the prostate to oppress the urethra and doesn’t allow the bladder to be emptied.
The suffix ‘it is’ it’s used in medical terms to denote inflammation, so prostatitis it’s the increase* in the size of the prostate, not because of the multiplication of the cells, but rather because of the inflammation of the tissue. Prostatitis can be acute or chronic and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) divides it into 4 categories:
- Acute bacterial prostatitis (ABP) (Category I): The same bacteria responsible for acute urinary infections are often related to acute bacterial prostatitis; this is because the proximity of the prostate to the urethra and bladder makes it easy for the bacteria to spread to the prostate and cause infection and as a response inflammation. ABP can progress into chronic bacterial prostatitis if it goes on untreated for long periods of time.
- Chronic prostatitis: When prostatitis is 3 months long or more it’s called chronic prostatitis, and it divides into two subcategories:
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis (Category II): Caused by the same bacteria responsible for acute prostatitis.
- Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis (Category III): Inflammation in the prostate with the usual symptoms, but bacteria doesn’t show in the studies.
- Asymptomatic prostatitis (Category IV): There is evidence of inflammation in biopsy or secretions exams but it’s presented in the patient without the normal symptoms of a prostatitis.
Some of the prostatitis cancer symptoms to look out for include low libido, frequent urination and discomfort or pain in the testicles.
3. Prostate Cancer
70% to 80% of the prostate cancer cells are produced in the gland cells at the periphery of the prostate, multiplying at an accelerated rate and becoming useless and, eventually, forming hard nodules that are easy to touch through rectal examination.
It is not completely known what the specific reasons behind prostate cancer are, although prostate cancer is strongly linked to genes and hormonal expression.
Curiously, men castrated before puberty never develop prostate cancer, and the growth of their prostates, in many cases, can be inhibited through the removal of testicles or through hormonal treatment using estrogen.
This is why it’s believed that androgens (male hormones) play a big part in the development of prostate cancer. The symptoms of prostate cancer in men include erectile dysfunction, difficulty when urinating, loss of bladder control and decreased* flow of urine stream.
What is the Main Cause of Prostate Cancer?
The main cause of prostate cancer is unknown, however, a number of factors may increase* the risk of getting prostate cancer. Age is a crucial factor as it increases* the chances of this disease as men grow older. Some foods included in everyday diet can also increase* the risk.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer Mens Health?
The men may notice blood in the urine and pain when urinating. The frequency of urinating might also increase* with a stinging sensation before or after urination. Loss of bladder control may also be experienced. Painful ejaculation may also be a symptom of prostate cancer.
What are The Symptoms of Prostate Problems?
Since BPH problems are caused primarily because of the oppression of the urethra, the symptoms are:
- Increase* in urinary frequency
- Inability to urinate
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- weak urine stream
- The need to urinate several times at night
- Blood in the urine (this might be a symptom of infection and tends to present when the BPH has gone without treatment and the urinary problems have caused infections in the urinary tracts that might later spread to the prostate causing prostatitis)
Prostatitis, causing the inflammation of the prostate and therefore also the oppression of the urethra; have many of the BPH symptoms, but because it’s caused by infections most of the time the symptoms include:
- Pain in the abdomen and pelvic area
- Pain or blood in the semen
- Pain while urinating
Acute prostatitis tends to be sudden and severe, whereas chronic prostatitis is usually slower and not as severe.
Normally prostate cancer doesn’t have any symptoms in its early (most treatable stage), but when it advances, it can have many symptoms similar to BPH and prostatitis:
- Waking at night to urinate
- Weaker urine stream
- Pain while urinating
- Blood in the urine
- Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips
Cancer, when advanced, tends to spread (metastasis) through the lymphatic system, a filtration system formed by nodules and vessels that spread through the body, when cancer reaches the lymphatic system it spreads to bones and organs that weren’t previously affected. Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can have these symptoms:
- Bone pain
- Swelling of feet
- Weight loss*
Can You Self-Asses The Prostate Symptoms?
Prostate symptoms are very noticeable, but they can be easily confused with urinary infections or could be misinterpreted as being less serious than what they actually could be. This is why the patient should immediately see a doctor if he starts noticing any of these symptoms.
How Can You Self-Examine The Prostate Symptoms?
Be aware that age and genes play a big part in prostate cancer; check if other members of your family (brothers, father, grandfather, etc.) have developed this kind of problem.
Immune-depressed men (men with certain conditions that render their immune system useless or less effective, i.e. VIH) are more likely to develop prostate cancer, and should, therefore, be more aware.
Observe your urinary habits; see if they change, and how they change when they do.
Observe the qualities of your semen and/or urine, especially looking for blood.
What are Prostate Treatment?
There are two types of prostate treatment
- Consisting of invasive procedures(prostate gland surgery, transurethral treatment)
- Consisting of non-invasive procedures (radiation chemotherapy, cryotherapy, HIFU, hormone therapy)
What are Invasive Procedures?
There are two reasons why the prostate gland surgery is performed: prostate cancer and benign prostatic hypertrophy. The surgery is life-saving and it is done when problems with urination do not respond to any medication. Though the prostate gland surgery can rarely cause side effects after the operation, it can help in eliminating the condition. The doctor carefully assesses the effects that the patient may suffer from after the surgery.
There are Several Types of Prostate Gland Surgery
- The first type is the robotic-assisted laparoscopic prostatectomy. It is an inpatient surgery performed to treat* prostate cancer. It is done with the help of a special robot, hence the name. The procedure is minimally invasive, done by using keyhole incision. It is performed under general anesthesia. The gland is removed with the help of scalpel or another similar instrument, and then, is removed completely through the incision. After the removal, the incision is closed.
- The second type is the transurethral resection of the prostate; this too is a very famous procedure. Transurethral resection is commonly done in two ways; during the standard procedure the gland is removed with the use of a scalpel, the second method contains electro-resection, which uses an electrified wire loop in the removal of the gland.
What are Non-Invasive Procedures?
Non-invasive procedures in prostate treatment are as follows:
- Radiation therapy is one of the most common ways of treating prostate issues, especially cancer. The radiation, which is used to cure* prostate cancer, is a form of high-energy x-ray. Radiation kills cancer cells, as it damages the DNA of any cell it hits. It can also ionize the water molecules near to the cancer cells, which can result in the appearance of “free radicals”. These free radicals, then, damage the nearby DNA. There is one drawback to this treatment method; the radiation can also damage the healthy cells. Radiation is received in two common ways
1. External beam radiation which is given outside the body, and
2. Brachytherapy which involves a source of radiation implanted into the body.
- Chemotherapy relies on the use of particular drugs throughout the body to kill the abnormal dividing cells. Chemotherapy is systemic and toxic, as it kills rapidly dividing cells. The cells of the skin, hair follicle, and bone marrow cells are also affected by chemotherapy because they too divide rapidly.
- Cryotherapy destroys the cancer cells through freezing. It is done under either regional or general anesthesia.
- HIFU stands for High Intensity Focused Ultrasound. It uses ultrasound waves, focused on a small area, to create intense heat at the selected place. The ultrasound waves result in thermal ablation and death of the cells in the selected area. For the treatment of prostate cancer, HIFU is approved in Mexico, China, Japan, Europe, much of South and Central America. It is not approved in the United States
- Hormone therapy is also called “androgen deprivation therapy”. It is known that human body produces different kinds of hormones; some of them are produced in higher levels in men. They are called androgens. Testosterone is the most well-known androgen. Androgens cause prostate cancer cells to grow. Hence the roles of anti-androgen medications, which do not stop the production of androgens, but block their functions in the body.
A serious prostate problem does not necessarily mean a shorter life; there are various ways of prostate treatments, as mentioned throughout the article. The procedures can be invasive, noninvasive and sometimes, natural; this relies on each individual case, patient preference and the opinion of the doctor responsible for the case.
Having a healthy and good overall well-being would contribute a lot in maintaining a healthy prostate. In order to truly relish the joys of aging and retirement, men should not just be prepared financially; men should also bank on their health and physical well-being to be completely equipped.
The key to keeping the prostate in a healthy condition is having a healthy diet comprising of vegetables that are rich in fiber, fruits, and foods that do not have excess fats. Also avoiding alcohol and sugary drink is may help in preventing the occurrence of the prostate disorders. Put in mind that early diagnosis also may help in curbing the disease from spreading.