Nowadays we are overexposed to issues like leukemia, breast cancer, AIDS, cervical cancer and so on. There are breast cancer awareness months, various stickers you can put on your car to raise awareness about cancer, multiple research studies conducted to find the cure for AIDS, and yet it is unheard of to go to a movie and be asked to donate a dollar to prostate cancer research.
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer in men, behind only lung cancer, and 1 out of 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Prostate cancer kills 4 times as many men as cervical cancer kills women! These numbers are scary and yet a lot of men are not even aware of the fact that they should undergo a prostate examination at least once a year.
There are basic things every man should know about his prostate health.
First of all every man should know what a prostate is. Prostate is a gland that is part of a male reproductive system, located below the urinary bladder, and is found in men only. Its main function is secreting the fluid that combines with sperm to form semen. This fluid is called prostate fluid and it keeps sperm healthy for fertilization. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, which is the canal responsible for emptying the bladder. This is why one of the symptoms of prostate cancer is urinary difficulties.
There are three main problems that can happen to prostate: prostatitis, enlargement, or cancer.
Prostatitis is the inflammation or infection of the prostate gland. There are 4 categories for this disease.
Acute bacterial prostatitis is the least common and the easiest one to treat. It is caused by bacteria, therefore, its symptoms usually come on suddenly and may include fever and chills, pain in the lower back or groin, painful ejaculation, urinary problems such as increased urgency and frequency, burning or painful urination, difficulty to fully empty the bladder, and blood-tinged urine.
The second category is the chronic bacterial prostatitis. It happens when bacteria find a spot on the prostate where they can survive. The symptoms of this prostatitis are not as severe as with acute bacterial prostatitis and they develop more slowly. Among the most common signs of chronic bacterial prostatitis is a frequent and urgent need to urinate, pain in the lower back and pelvic and genital areas, burning or painful urination, excessive urination during the night, difficulty starting to urinate, diminished urine flow, occasional blood in semen or urine, recurring bladder infections, slight fever.
The third category is the chronic nonbacterial prostatitis. This is the most common type of prostatitis, and yet it is the one that is the least understood. It may be found in men of any age, its symptoms may disappear and then suddenly come back, it can be both inflammatory and noninflammatory. The symptoms of this form of prostatitis are very similar to the ones of chronic bacterial prostatitis although you might not experience the fever.
The last category of prostatitis is called the asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis and it takes place when there are no evident symptoms such as pain or discomfort, but there are infection-fighting cells in the man’s prostate fluid. This form of prostatitis is usually discovered when the doctor performs the testing for infertility or cancer.
All of these forms of prostatitis are not contagious and the majority of the symptoms are not sexually transmitted, however if you do experience any of the above mentioned symptoms we recommend seeing a doctor right away.
The prostate enlargement is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH and is the second main problem that can happen to prostate. The prostate gland continuously grows throughout the man’s life but it usually does not cause any problems until late in life. The problems can occur when old cells do not die when the new cells continue to grow. This accumulation of cells thickens the prostate thus causing the urethra to narrow which in turn can lead to urinary problems. The symptoms of BPH may include frequent and urgent need to urinate, especially at night, difficulties starting the urine flow, inability to completely empty the bladder, leaking after urination, weak urine stream.
Some men with prostate cancer also have BPH, but these two conditions are not linked automatically. Having BPH does not lead to having prostate cancer. However since the early symptoms for these two conditions could be similar the doctor would need to evaluate them.
Finally, the last problem that can happen to prostate is the prostate cancer. It occurs when prostate cells mutate and begin to multiply out of control. Prostate cancer usually does not cause symptoms at the initial stage. As the disease progresses the symptoms are usually very similar to those of BPH. Additional symptoms may include chronic pains in the hips, thighs or lower back and blood in urine or semen. Prostate cancer usually develops slowly and is confined to the prostate gland for many years where it can not cause serious harm, however as time progresses the tumor can spread to surrounding tissues or even spread to other parts of the body such as bones, lungs and liver. The lack of symptoms and their overlap with other conditions makes prostate cancer rather difficult to diagnose, therefore it is crucial to get screened on a regular basis.
Unfortunately there is very little you can do to prevent prostate problems. A good step to keep you prostate gland healthy would be keeping to a low fat diet, increasing your intake of vegetables, limiting red meats, drinking a lot of water, lowering your cholesterol level, and staying physically active. But most importantly get screened on a regular basis to catch any prostate problems at an early stage for a successful treatment.
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