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Prostate Health

The prostate is a walnut-sized organ that lies just below the bladder, surrounding the  urethra.  The function of the prostate is to enhance the motility of sperm cells by secreting a thin, alkaline fluid into the urethra.  Inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) are common afflictions of men over the age of 50.  Prostate cancer is the leading form of cancer among men.

Inflammation of the Prostate (Prostatitis)

Prostatitis is inflammation caused by an infection of the prostate. Prostatitis may be responsible for a quarter of all office visits by young and middle-age men for complaints involving the genital and urinary systems, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). NKUDIC says prostatitis can fall into one of several different categories:

  • Acute bacterial prostatitis is the least common of the categories but also the easiest to diagnose and treat. This form of prostatitis leads to a range of very uncomfortable and painful symptoms, including chills, fever, pain in the lower back and genital area, urinary frequency and urgency often at night, burning or painful urination, and body aches. There is also a clear infection of the urinary tract, with white blood cells and bacteria in the urine.

  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis is another category. This form of prostatitis is associated with an underlying defect in the prostate. Symptoms can be similar to those of acute bacterial prostatitis, and there are also signs of infection.

  • Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome is the most common but least understood form of prostatitis. It is found in men of any age; symptoms go away and then return without warning. Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome may be inflammatory or noninflammatory. In the inflammatory form, urine, semen, and other fluids from the prostate show no evidence of a known infecting organism, but they do contain cells the body usually produces to fight infection. In the noninflammatory form, there is no evidence of inflammation or infection-fighting cells, but there are symptoms.

  • Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis is the diagnosis when the patient does not complain of pain or discomfort but has infection-fighting cells in his semen. Doctors usually find this form of prostatitis when looking for causes of infertility or testing for prostate cancer.

Acute bacterial prostatitis is a sudden form, and the potential for septicemia is high.  Chronic bacterial prostatitis can result from enlargement of the prostate and the trapping of bacteria in the urethra.  Chronic prostatitis is a major source of urinary tract infections among men. Click here to learn more about Prostatitis.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Hyperplasia describes the overgrowth of tissue.  Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the non-cancerous overproduction of prostate cells, specifically the supporting stromal and glandular tissue, that result in enlargement of the prostate.  This condition, which commonly afflicts men over the age of 50, can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms and increases the propensity toward bladder infections.  The exact mechanism that stimulates prostatic hyperplasia is not completely understood.  Click here for learn more about BPH.

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men.  It is primarily diagnosed in men over 65, although it may begin much earlier.  While most prostate cancers are found in the peripheral zone, they may occur anywhere in the prostate.  Most pathologists use a Gleason Grading System to assess the tumor progression.  The more distorted and aggressive the cancer looks, the higher the Gleason grade, and the more aggressive the cancer behaves in the body.  A score from 2 to 4 is very low on the cancer aggression scale; scores from 5 to 6 are mildly aggressive; a score of 7 indicates that cancer is moderately aggressive; scores from 8 to 10 indicate that the cancer is highly aggressive. Click here to learn more about prostate cancer.




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