What Is the Prostate?
The Prostate is a gland in the male body located just below the bladder in front of the rectum. It also wraps around the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. The prostate’s job is to produce fluid that becomes part of semen. This means any problems with it can affect urination and sexual function. Prostate cells also secrete various proteins into the bloodstream, one of which is called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA).
The Healthy Prostate
A healthy prostate is about the size of a walnut. As men age, the prostate becomes larger. By age 40, it might be the size of an apricot, and by 60, a lemon. As the prostate grows, it can squeeze off the urethra, which is why men over 50 may feel the need to urinate more frequently or have trouble emptying their bladders.
Is My Prostate Healthy?
Because prostate cancer may be asymptomatic, it is impossible to know the complete health of the prostate without a quality MRI scan. Regular MRI screenings are key to being in control of one’s prostate health.
Possible Prostate Issues
As men get older, they should get regular screenings and keep track of any urinary symptoms or issues with sexual function, as it could indicate an enlarged prostate. Your doctor may also monitor your PSA levels. Highly specific MRI scans such as those performed at Busch Center are used to detect any one of the three most common prostate issues:
- Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
This is the medical term for age-related enlargement of the prostate gland. BPH affects 75% of men over 60 and 90% of men over 85. It requires treatment if it gets so enlarged that the prostate squeezes the urethra to the point of severely slowing or cutting off the flow of urine. Men who participate in Testosterone Therapy may experience worsened BPH as a side effect
This is an infection or inflammation of the prostate. It shares similar symptoms to BPH, but it’s not the same condition. It can cause burning or painful urination, urgent urination, trouble urinating, difficult or painful ejaculation, flu-like symptoms, or pain in the lower back or perineum, the area between the scrotum and rectum.
- Prostate Cancer
This is the presence of cancerous cells growing out of control inside the prostate. One in 9 men in the U.S. is diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, occurring mostly in older men. It must be monitored and/or treated to make sure it doesn’t break out of the gland and affect other parts of the body. Some types of cancer remain contained or grow slowly and only need to be monitored through active surveillance, while others are more aggressive and can spread quickly if left untreated.
Screening for Early Detection
Prostate cancer is frequently asymptomatic–the main reason why regular screenings, or “mannograms,” are recommended to detect any abnormalities before they become an issue. Early detection of prostate cancer can prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body, and prevent a patient from needing the prostate removed, which often leads to life-altering side effects such as incontinence or impotence.