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

European PSA testing trial update offers little guidance to American men

The latest results from the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) found a lower risk of death due to prostate cancer in men screened using the PSA test, compared to men who were not screened. But unfortunately this finding does not offer clear guidance to American men trying to figure out what the great PSA testing debate means for them. (Locked) More »

BPH (hypertrophy vs. hyperplasia)

As a 78-year-old man with an enlarged prostate, I'm particularly interested in your fine articles about BPH. But if memory serves me right, we called the condition "benign prostatic hypertrophy" when I was in practice, but now you call it "benign prostatic hyperplasia." What's the difference? (Locked) More »

Epididymitis

  I am a 73-year-old man and I've been diagnosed with epididymitis, which has been quite painful - to say the least. I would appreciate your comments about the cause, cure, and any other implications of having this problem.   (Locked) More »

The PSA test: What's right for you?

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is the most important issue in men's health and most controversial. PSA believers and doubters have awaited the results of randomized clinical trials to resolve the debate. The USPSTF  based its 2011 recommendation statement on such trials. This article takes a look at the four major trials released between 2009 and 2011. Ultimately, the decision whether or not to have the test depends on an individual's risk factors and overall health. More »

The new PSA report: Understand the controversy

United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) latest recommendation on prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing points out that before a man decides whether or not to have the test, he should fully understand that screening for early prostate cancer may do more harm than good. Any man who is considering getting a PSA test needs to understand both the positive and negative implications of the test. More »

ED pills and benign prostatic hyperplasia

Medications for erectile dysfunction (ED) may useful in treating the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), which include frequent urination and incontinence. Combination therapy of ED pills with an alpha blocker and a hormone blocker may reduce the risk of complications for men with large prostates and moderate to severe BPH. More »

Pot for the prostate?

Marijuana raises complex legal, social, and economic issues that overshadow the considerable medical controversies. Scientists are studying various cannabinoids, chemical compounds derived from the plant itself. Research from Spain raises the possibility that certain cannabinoids may someday have a role in managing prostate cancer. (Locked) More »