Prostate 101: When should I see a doctor?

Many people are not sure what the prostate is, what it does, or when to consult a doctor if they think they have a problem. Information is the best tool you have in dealing with this aspect of men’s health.

What is Prostate?

The Prostate is a walnut-shaped gland that lies at the bottom of the bladder and covers the urethra (urinary tract). The prostate grows as a man gets older and produces the fluid that makes up approximately 30 percent of the semen. The fluid contains citric acid, calcium, zinc and enzymes that nourish and enhance the motility of the sperm. As a man ages, it may increase in size.

Diseases that can be contracted by the Prostate Gland

1. Prostatitis

Prostatitis is a disorder where the prostate gland is inflamed. It is the most common urinary tract issue in men younger than 50 years old. It often causes painful or difficult urination and pain in the pelvic, groin and genitals. Other signs and symptoms experienced by patients are fever, frequent urination particularly at night, feeling of urgency to urinate and bloody or cloudy urine. In severe conditions, men may experience inability to urinate.

2. Prostate Enlargement or BPH

The condition also called Prostate gland enlargement is a common condition in older men. It is observed in 50% of men above 50 years old and approximately 90% of men above 80 years old. This is a benign condition and does not lead to cancer. A common symptom seen is needing to pass urine often that may cause nighttime awakening to urinate. Other symptoms include incomplete emptying of the bladder, feeling the urgent need to urinate, weak urine flow, dribbling of urine and trouble starting to pass urine.

3. Prostate Cancer

Growths seen in the prostate can be benign or malignant. Prostate cancer may grow slowly and remain confined in the prostate gland, or it can aggressively grow and spread quickly. At the initial stages, it often has no symptoms. When they do manifest, symptoms can be like those of an enlarged prostate. Prostate cancer may also cause symptoms unrelated to BPH. In the advanced stages, bone pain and weight loss may be noted.

Screening for Prostate Cancer

Screening for any condition means testing for a disease even if one has no symptoms. There are 2 tests that can be done to screen for Prostate cancer namely Prostate-specific antigen test (PSA) and undergoing a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) by a physician.

Recommended screening by the American Cancer Society

• Age 50 for men who are at average risk

• Age 45 for men at high risk. This includes African-Americans and men who have first-degree relatives diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (< 65 years old).

• Age 40 for men at even higher risk. This is for patients with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age.

Reduce the Risk of Prostate Disease

• Eat fruit and vegetables

• Eat starchy foods such as rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, and sweet potatoes• Lycopene-rich foods include tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables

• Do not wait until your bladder is completely full before passing urine

• Exercise regularly

• Maintain a healthy diet because obesity contributes to prostate growth

When to consult with a doctor?

If you have signs of prostate disease, see your doctor to get the care you need. Consult your doctor to learn how you might reduce your risk of having prostate disease. Furthermore, as you become older, it is critical to have a prostate checkup yearly. Your prostate needs to be looked after and cared for. Always remember that prevention is always better to cure.

Consult a specialized doctor from Medgate for additional information on the disorders that might affect the prostate.