When many people think of prostate health and prostate problems, the first thing they think about is prostate cancer. While cancer can affect the prostate, there’s a lot more to address about this gland.
At Adult and Pediatric Urology, Alfred Shtainer, MD, FACS, is a leading provider of prostate treatments and preventive care for men in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, New York. In this post, he answers some of the most common questions about this important gland.
About the size of a walnut, the prostate gland produces some of the seminal fluid that transports sperm out of the body. The fluid provides the perfect environment for sperm, as well as nourishment and energy to support the sperm as it travels to the egg. As such, the prostate gland plays an important role in reproduction.
As a man ages, the prostate enlarges. While researchers aren’t sure why this happens, it’s important to note that this age-related change is not related to prostate cancer. Instead, this type of prostate enlargement is a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).
Enlargement can begin gradually as early as age 25, but bothersome symptoms typically don’t happen until around age 50. Those symptoms can include:
These symptoms happen because the prostate is located right below your bladder, and as the gland enlarges, it presses on the bladder and on the urethra, the tube that carries urine from your body.
Often, BPH can be managed with lifestyle changes and medication. When symptoms are more severe, we may recommend a minimally invasive, in-office treatment that uses radiofrequency energy to painlessly reduce the size of the gland.
Prostatitis happens when the prostate becomes inflamed, usually as the result of an infection, but sometimes as a result of prior surgery, unusual anatomy, or nerve-related problems. Prostatitis causes symptoms like:
Most infections respond well to antibiotics, but when symptoms persist or become chronic, Dr. Shtainer may recommend another therapy to reduce inflammation and relieve your symptoms.
Prostate cancer causes many of the same symptoms as BPH and prostatitis, including:
If you have symptoms, it’s very important to have your prostate checked to determine what’s causing them. Regular prostate exams and screenings can catch prostate issues and cancer as early as possible.
Recommendations for prostate exams and screenings vary, depending on your age and your prostate cancer risk. The American Cancer Society recommends considering cancer screening:
Repeated screenings should be performed every 1-2 years, depending on the results of testing.
A prostate exam and screening typically includes two parts: the digital rectal exam where the doctor palpates the prostate directly to look for signs of enlargement, and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to look for changes that could indicate cancer.
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, or if you’re due for a prostate screening, book an appointment online or over the phone with Dr. Shtainer and the team at Adult and Pediatric Urology today.