What is prostate?

If you are male and above the age of 45,

or have a male relative of that age,

you should read this:

 

What is the prostate ?

The prostate is a gland located in the lower urinary tract, under the bladder and around the urethra. (the urethra is the tube which carries urine from the bladder to the penis).Only men have a prostate. It produces part of the fluid which carries semen. The prostate contains smooth muscles which help to push out the semen during ejaculation.

A healthy prostate is about the size of a large walnut and has a volume of 15 to 25 ml.

Prostate: Diagram: A simplified cross-section of the pelvic area
Diagram: A simplified cross-section of the pelvic area

Diseases of the prostate

The two most common problems a man can have with his prostate are

BPH : this is an enlargement of the prostate due to age or prostatitis. This causes problems with urinating. It is totally different from prostate cancer neither it is a sign of it.

Prostate cancer: a cancer that originates in the prostate

Why is early detection of prostate cancer is important ?

Prostate cancer is symptomless in the early stages. Until the cancer breaks out of the prostate and spreads to other parts of the body there are no signs for it like muscle ,or bone pain, fatigue…

If the patient experiences symptoms the cancer has spread and treatment is much more difficult. In early stages, prostate cancer can be cured.

How to detect prostate cancer early ?

It is critical that every man above 45 years ask their doctor for a PSA blood test. This is a simple and cheap test. The test is a good indication of the health of your prostate.

If the test shows a healthy prostate you should ask your doctor how often to repeat the test. His answer, advice, will be based on the value of your fist PSA test and other factors. (Usually each year or each two years)

If the test shows a higher than expected level of in PSA activity , your doctor will advise you further investigation and tests. There can be several reasons for a higher than normal PSA level. Prostate cancer is only one of the causes.

Risk factors for prostate cancer

There are several known risk factors for prostate cancer, of which age is the most important one. Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40 and mostly develops in men over the age of 65. A family history of prostate cancer can increase the risk.

This type of cancer is most commonly diagnosed in men of African descent, and least in Asian men. It is still unknown what causes these differences.

How to treat prostate cancer

There are different treatments for prostate cancer. The treatment depends on the stage of the cancer and the general health of the patient.

The webpage of the EAU (European association of urology) is the most reliable source for information regarding prostate cancer and treatments. This information is available in different languages and is kept up to date by a team of urologists and patients.

Use the power of your peers

We know from our own experience that the diagnosis of prostate cancer is a big shock. You should know that unlike some other cancers with prostate cancer you have thinking time and do not need to rush decisions as the treatment is seldom “very urgent” . One or more months will not make a difference to the outcomes or change your opportunities for treatment.

Use the time you have to inform yourself about the different treatment options, the experience of your doctor(s) in this field and the possible side effects. Your personal situation and wishes should define the choice of a specific treatment.

In more than 23 different European countries there are patient groups ready to help. Use the power of your peers. In order to help you, we publish on our website the contacts in each country.