The prostate is a gland in men the size of a walnut that increases in size after age 40. It is located between the bladder and rectum and surrounds the urethra and functions to help produce semen. Most men after age 40 will develop enlargement of the gland, which is why it’s important to get it checked regularly to catch problems early.
The most common issues with the prostate involve an array of symptoms, but some men do not have any external symptoms, which is why an annual exam after age 50 is recommended. Enlargement of the gland has three main causes:
- Prostatitis is the most common of the medical issues associated with the gland, characterized by prostate inflammation. It is recognized that half of all men will develop prostatitis and need treatment in his lifetime.
- Enlarged prostate, BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia), is the most prevalent health concern among men. After age 50, most men will encounter BPH, but this does not mean cancer is the underlining reason. An embarrassing and annoying symptom is difficulty starting and completing urination.
- Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate grow uncontrollably. This condition is the most worrisome because it is second only to lung cancer in cancer deaths in men.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men after skin cancer. One in every seven men will be diagnosed with this particular cancer. While age is the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer, ethnicity, family history and gene mutations also play a role. With early detection, prostate cancer can be successfully treated.
Clint Cheng, MD, primary care physician at CHI St. Joseph Health Primary Care Barron Road, shares that prostate medical conditions are extremely common in older men. “Prostate cancer screening is a complex topic that is best discussed with your doctor to determine your risks and to determine if and when you should have prostate cancer screening.” While the most concerning medical diagnosis is prostate cancer, men who have an enlarged prostate often have significant symptoms that can be addressed with treatment to improve their quality of life. These prostate issues can be evaluated by discussing symptoms, doing a digital rectal examination, and checking bloodwork that includes a PSA (prostate screening antigen).
Are you overdue for a prostate exam? Schedule an appointment with a CHI St. Joseph Health primary care physician to take care of your important screenings by calling 979.774.2121 or requesting an appointment online.