The prostate is a small gland in the male reproductive system. In young men the prostate is about the size of a walnut, but it gets bigger with age. Testosterone makes the prostate grow in size.It continues to grow, doubling in size between the ages of 21 and 50 years, and almost doubles again in size between the ages of 50 and 80 years. The main role of the prostate is to make fluid that protects and feeds sperm. The prostate makes about one third of the fluid that is released from the penis at orgasm.
The prostate sits underneath the bladder, and surrounds the top part of the urethra. Urine passes through the urethra on its way from the bladder to the penis.
Prostate disease is any medical problem that affects the prostate gland. Common prostate problems include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis and prostate cancer.
Benign Prostate Hypertrophy
Benign Prostate Hypertrophy is a non-cancerou enlargement of the prostate gland. Enlargement of the prostate makes the urethra narrower and puts pressure on the base of the bladder resulting in problems with urinating and voiding, dribbling after urination, urgency, frequency and a feeling that they have not completely emptied their bladder.
Men with BPH are also at higher risk of prostate cancer.
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland. It could be caused by a bacterial infection or non-bacterial inflammation, and it can be very painful and have a major effect on quality of life. Prostatitis can affect men at any age and it is thought that one in every six men have this condition at some stage during their lives.
Men with prostatitsis usually suffer from, frequent and painful urination, the feeling of urgently needing to urinate, painful ejaculation, lower back pain, perineal pain (pain at the base of the scrotum and penis), chills, fever, muscular pain and general lack of energy.
Prostate cancer is a problem where cells within the prostate grow and divide abnormally so that a tumour forms. Prostate cancer is diagnosed mainly in men over the age of 50 years.
Prostate cancer cells often grow very slowly and may not cause any problems or symptoms, or become life-threatening. However, less commonly, the cancer cells grow more quickly and may spread to other parts of the body.
Excluding some forms of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed in men in Australia, with more than 19,000 Australian men diagnosed each year. It is more common in older men, particularly over the age of 50 years.