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Stan just found out that a friend has prostate cancer. Many men he knows have prostate problems. He’s worried that this might happen to him.
It’s true that prostate problems are common after age 50. The good news is there are many things you can do.
What Is the Prostate?
The prostate is a small gland in men that helps make semen. Located just below the bladder in front of the rectum, it wraps around the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. It tends to grow larger as you get older. If your prostate gets too large, it can cause a number of health issues.
Here are some examples of non-cancer prostate problems:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is very common in older men. It means your prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. Treatments for BPH include:
Acute bacterial prostatitis usually starts suddenly from a bacterial infection. See your doctor right away if you have fever, chills, or pain in addition to prostate symptoms. Most cases can be cured with antibiotics. You also may need medication to help with pain or discomfort.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is an infection that comes back again and again. This rare problem can be hard to treat. Sometimes, taking antibiotics for a long time may work. Talk with your doctor about other things you can do to help you feel better.
Chronic prostatitis, also called chronic pelvic pain syndrome, is a common prostate problem. It can cause pain in the lower back, in the groin, or at the tip of the penis. Treatment may require a combination of medicines, surgery, and lifestyle changes.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of treatment.
Symptoms of Prostate Problems
See your doctor right away if you have any of these symptoms:
Prostate cancer is common among American men. Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be affected by your:
Diagnosing Prostate Cancer
To find out if prostate symptoms are caused by cancer, your doctor will ask about your past medical problems and your family’s medical history. Your doctor also will perform a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor will put a gloved finger into your rectum to examine your prostate to check for:
You may be asked to give a urine sample for testing. Your doctor also may do a blood test to check the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level. PSA levels can be high in men with an enlarged prostate gland or with prostate cancer. You may also need an ultrasound exam that takes computer pictures of the prostate.
If tests show that you might have cancer, your doctor will refer you to a specialist (a urologist) for a prostate biopsy. The doctor will take small tissue samples from several areas of the prostate gland to look for cancer cells.
Treating Prostate Cancer
Treatment for prostate cancer depends on whether cancer is in part or all of the prostate, or if it has spread to other parts of the body. It also depends on your age and overall health. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment choice for you and the possible side effects of treatment. You may want to ask another doctor for a second opinion.
Treatment for prostate cancer may be:
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