Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer are the predominant conditions that affect the prostate gland. The following article provides an overview of the same.
Prostate gland is an important organ of the male reproductive system. Before ejaculation, this gland mixes the semen with a milky, alkaline secretion (pH 7.29), which contains enzymes and calcium. This makes the semen alkaline, which prolongs the life of sperms, as they travel through the vaginal tract towards the egg, for fertilization. In other words, the main function of the prostate gland is to provide a protective medium to the sperm cells, thus increasing the chances of fertility. Other important function of this gland is to help propel semen out of the penis, and control the flow of urine during ejaculation.
Common Problems With the Prostate Gland
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
This condition is characterized by an enlargement of the prostate gland, leading to various problems with the urinary system of the body. It is common in older men, especially those who have crossed their eighties. However, there have been cases wherein, men below the age of 30 years, have also been diagnosed with this condition. Complications may include blocked urine flow, and urinary tract or kidney problems.
- Difficulty in starting urination
- Discontinuous urination
- Constant urge to urinate
- A feeling of complete evacuation
- Presence of blood in the urine
- Bladder stones
- Altered kidney function
- Urinary tract infection
Prostate enlargement has not been associated with any specific cause. However, it is known that the enlargement occurs due to the rapid multiplication of cells in the gland. Such abnormal growth may be a result of certain changes in the testosterone and estrogen levels in men.
A variety of medicinal and surgical treatment options are available to deal with this condition, and to reduce the complications. Alpha-blockers make it easier for the person to urinate, and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors help in shrinking the enlarged prostate. In some cases, a combination of these two drugs may be required for the treatment. In individuals, where such drugs are not effective, the size of the prostate gland is surgically reduced.
As the name suggests, prostate cancer refers to the cancerous growth in the prostate gland. It is known to be one of the common kinds of cancers that affect men. Some types of prostate cancer, grow slowly, and do not cause any serious harm. These cancers initially remain confined to the gland. On the contrary, some cancers exhibit an aggressive growth, and quickly spread to the other organs of the body.
- Presence of blood in urine, and/or semen
- Edema in legs
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Pain in the bones
- Difficulty in urinating
Certain cells present in the tissues of the prostate gland accumulate genetic mutations, causing them to proliferate uncontrollably. This gives rise to the formation of tumors, which further grow and invade the surrounding tissues as well as metastasize to the other organs of the body. However, the exact reason behind such mutations, or the initiation of a cancerous growth, is not clear.
In case of prostate cancers which are detected at an early stage (confined to the prostate gland), no specific treatment may be prescribed. However, the individuals are recommended to monitor the progression of the disease. In case of growth in the tumor size, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy may be suggested. In severe cases, surgical removal of the tumor may be recommended.
Apart from this, other conditions that may affect the prostate gland include infection and inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis). It is advisable for men to undergo regular prostate examination to detect any impending conditions, and seek prompt treatment.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice.