Everyone gets embarrassed talking about it but every man has one! What am I talking about…. The Prostate Gland! ‘Movember’ is the perfect time to understand more about prostate health.
What is it? The prostate is a walnut sized gland found below the bladder and in front of the rectum in men.
What does it do? It makes some of the fluid that forms semen which carries sperm from the testes.
Why do I need to know about it? As men get older, the prostate gets larger, as a normal part of aging. However, sometimes this can cause disruptive symptoms for men. The prostate squeezes the tube which comes down from the bladder out of the body and so as it enlarges it can stop you passing urine easily. This is a non-cancerous condition called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. On occasion, these symptoms can be caused by Prostate Cancer which is why I suggest always discussing it with your doctor. Most times however, they will be caused by a benign, non-cancerous cause and we can easily treat these symptoms so they do not cause you any bother.
What symptoms should I look out for? Please discuss with your Family Medicine Consultant if you get any of these symptoms which may suggest of any enlargement of your prostate:
- difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder.
- a weak flow when you urinate.
- a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly.
- dribbling urine after you finish urinating.
- needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night.
- a sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.
What is Prostate Cancer? It is the second most common Cancer in men; affecting 1 in 8 men. Prostate Cancer mainly affects men over 50 and your risk increases with age. It is even higher for black men and men with a family history of Breast Cancer.
How do we test for Prostate Cancer? If you do not have any symptoms of concern, but want to screen for Prostate Cancer, a PSA test can be arranged. This is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. Its normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises slightly as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. If it is raised more than we would expect for your age, it may have a problem with your prostate, and although it doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, we do need to have a closer look at it. Also, if you have the symptoms mentioned above, the a normal PSA test alone is not reassuring enough and you may need to have an examination of the prostate by your doctor and potentially further investigations.
Where can I read more about the PSA? This website ‘Prostate Cancer UK’ talks you through the test and the pros and cons of screening. https://prostatecanceruk.org/prostate-information-and-support/prostate-tests/psa-blood-test