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

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 »

Ask the doctor: Prostate surgery and ED

Studies have not shown that taking an erectile function drug right after prostate surgery helps men to recover more erectile function, compared with just taking the drugs as needed for sexual activity. (Locked) More »

How to monitor prostate cancer using active surveillance

Active surveillance is a strategy that involves monitoring your prostate cancer closely and choosing to undergo treatment if it advances. It's an option for men who have "low-risk" prostate cancer. Here are the different ways to monitor prostate cancer with active surveillance. More »

How to make your prostate biopsy go better-before, during, and after

Several things can make a prostate biopsy more comfortable for men and reduce risks of complications. These include taking antibiotics before and after, getting proper anesthesia, and temporarily stopping blood thinners if advised. It is also important that the doctor obtains a sufficient number of samples and sorts them for examination according to the region of the prostate they came from, since this can affect decisions about further testing and possible treatment.  (Locked) More »

Overcoming urinary leakage

Involuntary leakage of urine (incontinence) in men often traces to either damage from prostate surgery or physical changes in the bladder that trigger a sudden, strong need to urinate (urinary urgency) with involuntary loss of urine. After assessing the underlying causes, a doctor can suggest strategies to reduce leakage incidents. This may include strengthening the muscles beneath the bladder, in the pelvic floor. Medication may also help. (Locked) More »

Older men slow to quit PSA testing

Many American men 65 and older continue to have routine prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests to look for hidden cancer, despite expert recommendations that discourage the practice, according to national survey findings. (Locked) More »

Drugs for enlarged prostate: Is cancer a side effect?

The medications dutasteride (Avodart) or finasteride (Proscar) are used to treat symptoms of noncancerous enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The drugs slightly lower the chance of low-risk prostate cancer while slightly increasing the risk of aggressive prostate cancer. Men must weigh the small long-term cancer risk associated with these drugs against the value of immediate relief of bothersome urinary symptoms caused by BPH. (Locked) More »

Ask the doctor: Biking and the prostate

There is no good evidence that bicycling worsens existing prostate conditions, but prolonged biking may cause numbness in the genital area and possibly erectile dysfunction. Wider, softer seats can help to reduce numbness and discomfort. (Locked) More »