The Prostate Gland
The prostate is a gland found only in men that sits just below the bladder. It is about the size of a walnut. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out through the penis. The urethra passes through the prostate. Fluid produced by the prostate forms part of the semen when you ejaculate.
Benign Enlargement of the Prostate Gland
The prostate gland lies just beneath the bladder in men. It goes around the top of the urethra (the tube that passes urine from the bladder). It is normally about the size of a chestnut. The prostate helps to make semen but most semen is made by another gland nearby (the seminal vesicle). The prostate enlarges gradually after the age of 50. By the age of 70, about 8 in 10 men will have an enlarged prostate. It is therefore as normal to have a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate in later life as it is to have grey hair or wrinkles. (Prostate cancer is a separate condition that is much less common and is not dealt with in this article).
Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate gland. Prostatitis makes up almost a quarter of urology consultations so is an important disease for both patients and doctors, although similar symptoms can also be caused by other conditions which are non-inflammatory and these days also known as ‘pelvic pain syndrome.’ Prostatitis most commonly affects men between the ages of 30 and 50.
The PSA test is a way of checking for prostate cancer. It means having a simple blood test usually taken from the arm. The benefit of the PSA test is that it could find a prostate cancer while it’s still small. It might then be possible to treat it before it grows and causes any problems. But before you decide whether you want the test, there are a few things you should think about.
Most prostate cancers grow very slowly and don’t cause any problems, particularly in men in their 70’s or 80’s. And it’s unusual to find a prostate cancer in men under the age of fifty though it does occur. The risk is higher in people with a family history and has been shown to be higher in African Americans.
Prostate Cancer can affect 1 in 12 men in Scotland and is the most common cancer amongst men in Scotland. Whilst the number of people diagnosed with prostate cancer in Scotland has increased, so have survival rates, especially where there has been an early diagnosis. The following pages are aimed at providing an overview of what prostate cancer is, how it can be detected and what treatments are available.
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