prostate cancerThere are over 3 million men in the U.S. that are living with prostate cancer, and it is one of the most common cancers among men. A future diagnosis will affect 1 in 9 men in their lifetime. So chances are that you will know of someone close to you that will be helped by having more information on this subject. It will help to make educated decisions on when to see a medical professional, implementing lifestyle changes, testing options and suggested guidelines.

The prostate is a gland that is approximately the size of a small walnut, and the purpose is to produce the seminal fluid that feeds and transports sperm. The prostate gland is located just below the bladder, as well as the front of the rectum.  It wraps around the upper part of the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. This placement is the reason that problems can affect sexual function as well as urination issues.

Prostate conditions can be divided into 3 main categories:

Infection or Inflammation – This is called prostatitis, and it can cause painful urination that feels like burning or creates an urgency. It can also cause painful or difficult ejaculation. Physical pain can be located in the lower back or the area between the scrotum and rectum.

Enlargement due to age –  Benign prostatic hyperplasia can compress the urethra and can slow or stop the flow of urine. This can affect about three-quarters of men over the age of 60.

Prostate Cancer – Here the growth of cancerous cells start in the prostate and can spread out to affect other parts of the body as the disease progresses.

In the early stages, prostate cancer does not have many symptoms. In the more advanced stages, signs can include:

  • pelvic area discomfort
  • erectile dysfunction
  • trouble urinating
  • a decreased urine stream
  • blood in semen
  • bone pain

Make an appointment with a health care provider if have concerns about any changes that are occurring with the above mentioned conditions. Also, discuss screening recommendations for prostate cancer with a health care provider. This discussion will involve determinations on potential benefit, risks and uncertainties for receiving a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and/or digital rectal exam (DRE) as part of the screening process.

According to the American Cancer Society, guidelines for the discussion about testing should take place at these milestones;

  • Age 40, at higher risk – if more than one first-degree relative (e.g. father, brother, son) with diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age
  • Age 45, at high risk – African American men, and men to have a first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at younger than 65 years of age
  • Age 50 – for men that are of average risk for prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years

Prostate conditions may be embarrassing to discuss for many men, but early detection and treatments can yield significant results. Taking a proactive approach will help to maintain prostate health.  Hampton Family Practice believes that preventive screening and early detection is the key to staying healthy. Make an appointment to discuss prostate issues by calling (757) 838-6335.