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

Does prostate cancer screening matter?

Updated guidelines for PSA testing suggest it offers only a small potential benefit for reducing the chance of dying of prostate cancer for men ages 55 to 69, and is not recommended for men age 70 and older. The guidelines may help protect men from unnecessary biopsies, radiation treatment, and even surgery. While the decision to have regular screening is never simple, it is a personal choice that depends on many factors, like a man’s age, level of risk, and family history. More »

Understanding the risks of supplements and herbal remedies for prostate cancer

Coping with prostate disease is never easy. You may find that established treatments are not always particularly effective and you may want to try other more natural methods for prostate cancer, such as herbs and supplements. But you should use them with caution, and always check with your doctor before taking any new type of medication. An estimated one-third of American men with prostate cancer use at least one form of complementary medicine therapy, including herbs and supplements. Some studies have suggested herbs and supplements might help with prostate cancer treatment and support. But the main concern is that some herbs and supplements can interact with each other, or with your prescribed medications. For example, they may enhance the effects of some medications or negate any benefit. More »

New approach identifies returning prostate cancer

Researchers have mapped patterns of prostate cancer recurrence following surgery, which may help doctors find the best way to treat men whose cancer has returned. About 30% of men who have prostate cancer surgery will have a recurrence, according to the study in the Journal of Urology.  More »

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 »