Prostate Health & Disease

The prostate gland has an important job: it produces a thick, milky-white fluid that becomes part of the semen, the liquid ejaculated during sexual activity. The gland isn't big—about the size of a walnut or golf ball—but its location virtually guarantees problems if something goes awry. The prostate gland is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It also wraps around the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. That means prostate problems can affect urination and sexual function.

The prostate is prone to three main conditions:

Prostatitis: infection or inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can cause burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, trouble urinating, difficult or painful ejaculation, and pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (known as the perineum) or in the lower back.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia: aging-related enlargement of the prostate gland. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can make the prostate compress the urethra and slow or even stop the flow of urine, in much the same way that bending a garden hose chokes off the flow of water. BPH affects about three-quarters of men over age 60.

Prostate cancer: the growth of cancerous cells inside the prostate, which may break out of the gland and affect other parts of the body. In the United States, about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It occurs mainly in older men.

Prostate Health & Disease Articles

Meditation may ease anxiety from active surveillance

A mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR) can help control anxiety among men who follow active surveillance for prostate cancer. The wait-and-see approach can make men feel so uneasy about their condition that they opt for treatment with radiation therapy or surgery when it is unnecessary. MBSR not only eases anxiety levels, but also inspires men to be more proactive about their health and adopt lifestyle changes like a proper diet and exercise. More »

Radiation: Another treatment choice for prostate cancer

Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have another choice of treatment besides active surveillance or prostate removal surgery: radiation therapy. It is less invasive than surgery and can be used for all four stages of clinical prostate cancer—from low-risk stage 1 to intermediate stage 2 to high-risk stages 3 and 4. (Locked) More »

Can vitamin D levels signal aggressive prostate cancer?

Low levels of vitamin D may help predict aggressive prostate cancer, according to new research. While it only showed an association, the researchers believe low D levels could be used as a valuable biomarker, and help men and their doctors decide whether to consider active surveillance, in which the cancer is monitored for changes.   More »

Ask the doctor: Concern about a now "normal" PSA

I am 68 years old, and recently my PSA level (which was normal before) increased to 5.2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). My doctor repeated the test one month later, and it was normal again at 3.3 ng/ml. Should I still be concerned? More »

Vasectomy and prostate cancer

Vasectomy has been linked to higher risk of eventually being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but there is no convincing proof that one actually causes the other. (Locked) More »

Prostate cancer: Treat or wait?

After prostate cancer diagnosis, certain men with low-risk cancers can choose to monitor the cancer very closely and treat when the disease progresses. This allows a man to delay or avoid the risks of treatment. The approach is called active surveillance with intention to treat. Bothersome and potentially permanent side effects of treatment include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. By choosing active surveillance, some men can avoid the risks of treating a cancer that may be unlikely to cause them serious harm within their life span.     (Locked) More »