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What to Know About Prostate Enlargement?

It is not rocket science to know that woman get the short end of the stick with some life events, such as periods and birth. The saying, “Woman have it so much worse” is a common saying, but the truth is, men can have issues too. People don’t realize that certain parts of the body are crucial for your overall health. It is important to know the risks and conditions that you are predisposed to, in order to prevent potential threats and health concerns from occurring.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small walnut-shaped gland located in front of the rectum, just below the bladder. The gland wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen from the bladder to the outside of the body. It is the part of a man’s sex organs, which also include the penis, scrotum, and testicles. The prostate is important, as its fluid mixed with semen is important for a man’s ability to fertilize a woman’s egg and father a child. As a man ages, the prostate grows larger. However, if your prostate becomes too large, it can cause several health issues.

What are the Symptoms of Prostate Problems?

See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Need to get up many times during the night to urinate
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Dribbling, or weak flow, of urine

What are Common Prostate Problems?

  • Benign prostatic hyperplasia (Enlarged Prostate): BPH, is very common in older men. It means your prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. Treatments for BPH include: medications to help shrink the prostate or relax muscles near your prostate to ease symptoms. Surgery may also be recommended to help shrink the prostate and help urine flow.
  • Prostate Cancer: Prostate cancer is very common among American men. It can be affected by:
    • Age: Men age 50 and older run a greater risk.
    • Race: Prostate cancer is most common among African-American men, followed by Hispanic and Native American men. Asian-American men have the lowest rates of prostate cancer.
    • Family history: If your father or brother had prostate cancer, you are more likely to have it too.
    • Diet: The risk of prostate cancer may be higher for men who eat high-fat diets.
  • Bacterial prostatitis: Usually starts suddenly from a bacterial infection, and can be treated with antibiotics. It can be acute or chronic, so be aware of your symptoms, which may include: common prostate symptoms, pain, chills, and fever.
  • Chronic prostatitis (Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome): This is a common prostate problem. It can cause pain in the lower back, in the groin, or at the tip of the penis. Treatment may require a combination of medicines, surgery, and lifestyle changes.

Diagnosing Prostate Cancer:

To find out if prostate symptoms are caused by cancer, your doctor will ask about your past medical problems and your family’s medical history. Your doctor also will perform a physical checkup, most likely to include a digital rectal examination to check for:

  • The size, firmness, and texture of the prostate
  • Any hard areas, lumps, or growth spreading beyond the prostate
  • Any pain caused by touching or pressing on the prostate

You may be asked to give a urine sample for testing. Your doctor also may do a blood test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. PSA levels can be high in men with an enlarged prostate gland or with prostate cancer. You may also need an ultrasound exam that takes computer pictures of the prostate. If tests show that you might have cancer, your doctor will refer you to a specialist (a urologist) for a prostate biopsy, which takes small tissue samples from several areas of the prostate gland to look for cancer cells.

Treating an Enlarged Prostate or Prostate Cancer:

Treatment for an enlarged prostate requires medication or surgery, depending on the situation. Treatment for prostate cancer depends on whether cancer is in part/all of the prostate, or if it has spread to other parts of the body. It also depends on your age and overall health. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment choice for you and the possible side effects of treatment. You may also feel comfortable asking another doctor for a second opinion.

If you have been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate or prostate cancer, it is important to get it checked out immediately, as early detection will give you a better treatment outcome. Call Charlotte Men’s Health at (704) 786-5131 to request an appointment with Dr. Richard Natale.

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