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What Is The Prostate Gland?

By Greg Ford

Wade is a father of two and in his late 40s. He has never really been particularly health conscious. But he uses his treadmill at home approximately 20 minutes each morning on the weekdays. He took medications for his blood pressure. He was not a smoker. Other than that he ate whatever he wanted and was a beer drinker. He felt his health was okay. However his doctor said he was nearing an age where routine prostate screening is recommended. Wade was not completely sure what that was but assumed it was an invasive uncomfortable procedure so he skipped the appointment. About a year later it was time to renew the blood pressure medication. His doctor would not do it until he took the prostate screening. Wade was a little embarrassed to find out the screening was just a simple blood test called PSA. The test results were high, so the doctor did the test again. The results were the same. Wade was referred to an urologist specialist who also drew blood and did the test again with the same results. That physician then recommended a prostate biopsy. A biopsy is an invasive procedure but now this was no longer Wade’s main concern. The biopsy came back positive for prostate cancer. It was caught in time. Wade had a prostate procedure which has a recovery period. But he will be fine. However it terrifies him to think that it could have been fast growing, and spreading, all during that year he put it off. He could have had a much worst outcome all because of a lack of knowledge.

Stories very similar to this are repeated thousands of times by men every year. Many times the outcome is not as good. That is the purpose of this brief article. There are many men who are not really sure what the prostate is. The intent of this article is to give a basic overview to educate about the male prostate and the most common disorders that can occur.

WHAT IS A PROSTATE? The prostate is a gland located in front of the rectum and underneath the urinary bladder about the size of a walnut. Only men have a prostate. It encompasses the neck of the male bladder and the urethra. See a photo Here.

The urethra is the tube line that carries urine from the bladder and out through the penis. The prostate is part muscular and part glandular tissue. It has ducts opening into the prostatic portion of the urethra. It’s make up contains three lobes: a center lobe and one lobe on each side. The prostate begins development before birth and continues to grow until adulthood.

The medical profession is still not completely100% certain of all that the prostate does. However it is known that one of the prostate’s main functions is to make some of the fluids that protects and nourishes sperm in semen. As part of the male reproductive system, the prostate gland makes a good portion of the fluids that forms part of the semen which carries sperm. During male ejaculation the muscular glands of the prostate help propel the prostate fluid. This is in combination with sperm that was produced in the testicles. The semen then leaves the body out through the penis during ejaculation.

WHAT ARE MOST COMMON PROSTATE DISORDERS? In general there are four common prostate disorders:

PROSTATODYNIA: This is a type of inflammation of the prostate not due to bacterial infection. There is typically no presence of infection fighting cells, or antibodies, present in the urine of men who suffer from the disease. Prostatodynia is typically a chronic, painful disease.

Symptoms including chills, fever, pain in the lower back and genital area. There is also body aches, burning or painful urination, and the frequent and urgent need to urinate. They characteristically go away and then come back without warning. The way prostatodynia is different from other prostate inflammations is that the urine and fluid from the prostate shows no signs of a known infecting organism or of cells that the body usually produces to fight infections.

Treatments are varied including antibiotics, non steroid anti-inflammatory agents, muscle relaxants and sometimes medications for chronic pain.

PROSTATITIS: is a benign non life threatening condition. It is not prostate cancer. It is also caused by swelling and inflammation of the prostate. It can create discomfort deep inside the pelvis. There also may be discomfort when passing urine or with ejaculation. The discomfort can spread to other areas of the pelvis.

Prostatitis can affect males of any age. National Institutes of Health statistics show that Prostatitis may account for up to 25% of all office visits for complaints involving the genital and urinary systems from young and middle-aged men. In addition, chronic Prostatitis, meaning it does not go away, is the #1 reason men under the age of 50 goes to see an urologist. Chronic Prostatitis can also be connected to other urinary tract infections. The condition is considered chronic if it lasts more than three months. When caused by an infection it can be treated with antibiotics. Treatment can be individualized for each case. Some types of Prostatitis can be harder to treat, particularly if symptoms have been ignored for some time.

BENIGN PROSTATIC HYPERLASIA (BPH): Also frequently referred to as prostate enlargement is quite common in older men. It too is a benign condition which is not prostate cancer. Some prostate enlargement is common in most men from age 50 onwards. And prostate enlargement occurs in 43 per cent of men age 60 and over. An enlarged prostate, means that your prostate gland has grown bigger. When the enlargement reaches a point where it starts to squeeze the urethra tube, which passes through the prostate, difficulties with urination can occur.

Though BPH is quite common, it is rarely life threatening. BPH is what you frequently see on the TV commercials for treatments like Avodart. Treatment may require prescription antibiotics. In advanced cases, an operation is done to widen the urethral. This is called trans-urethral resection of the prostate (TURP). A general anesthetic is used, an instrument is passed up the urethra through the penis and some of the prostate is removed to improve urine flow. The surgery may require a couple of days in hospital, with a catheter installed during recovery.

PROSTATE CANCER: Of course this would be considered as the most serious condition and the only one that can be life-threatening. Unfortunately prostate cancer does claim the lives of thousands of men every year. What is one of the most worrying aspects is that many prostate cancers develop without symptoms noticeable at all. Prostate cancer is the second largest cause cancer deaths in men, after lung cancer. Almost one out of eleven men will develop prostate cancer during his lifetime. It occurs when some of the cells of the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal cells, causing a swelling or tumor. However, unlike BPH enlargements, prostate cancer cells will eventually break out of the prostate and invade other parts of the body, particularly the bones and lymph nodes, producing secondary tumors, a process known as metastasis. Once the cancer escapes out from the prostate, there are possible treatments but for now there is no cure.

For this reason, the most important thing for you to remember from this article is early screening and early detection. With early detection the survival rate of prostate cancer is over 90%.

Your very first step is a simple blood test call PSA. This test measures the amount of prostate specific antigen in the blood. The prostate releases PSA into a man’s blood. Healthy men have low amounts of PSA in the blood. If the screening test comes back showing elevated levels then further testing, including a prostate biopsy, may be advised by the physician.

But it all starts with the PSA screening. It is recommended as an annual blood screen for men in their 50′s and older. However African American males have higher rates of prostate cancer. Also any man with a history of prostate cancer on their father’s side. Men in these groups really should begin getting testing their mid 40′s.

It is a very simple test that could save your life.

For more information on the male prostate, testing, diagnosis, treatment and recovery, Go Now To:

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Ford, Greg "What Is The Prostate Gland?." What Is The Prostate Gland?. 7 Jul. 2010. 6 Sep 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Ford, G (2010, July 7). What Is The Prostate Gland?. Retrieved September 6, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Ford, Greg "What Is The Prostate Gland?"

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