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Thursday, August 11, 2016



What should we know about the prostate?

Today I will talk about the prostate. Many times  we've heard women say, oh this is only for men! But if you have a husband, a son, a brother, this could be important for you. When speaking or mention the prostate, the vast majority of men try to ignore it and go letting the years pass without getting a medical checked, with unfortunate results in some cases.

What is the prostate and what is it for?

The prostate is part of the group of organs of the male reproductive system. It is a small walnut-shaped gland that is located below the bladder, and in front of the rectum. Its two main functions are to allow the flow of urine from bladder, and for semen at the time of ejaculation.

When problems occur in the prostate, how do we know?

As men age, the prostate will grow, because its location  is close to the bladder, it is possible that this enlargement will lead some urinary problems because the prostate begins to narrow the channel through which urine is discarded from the bladder.


Some of the symptoms with which you can recognize if you are experiencing problems with the prostate are:

Burning  sensation when urinating.
Constantly need to get up to urinate during the night.
Need to urinate during the day, many times more than normal.
Decreased amount of urine.

Age and prostate.

Men older than 40  years old MUST start a regular medical check to detect any type of problem with  prostate. Some of these 3 most common problems are benign and originate due to aging. However, there is one that can be very serious as prostate cancer. There will be men who have more than one of these conditions at once, and some may have no symptoms at all, or until the disease is well advanced.

The prostate can cause problems in three ways:

Aging will bring the risk of some problems with the prostate.

1- Prostatitis

It happens when the prostate becomes inflamed due to a bacterial infection which in turn is produced as a result of a urinary tract infection, or sexually transmitted disease such as chlamydia or gonorrhea. Because there may be other factors that produce it, medical check up should be done to treat the root of the problem. If not addressed it could lead to a serious chronic problem.

Some signs and symptoms of prostatitis may include:

Pain or burning when urinating.
Shaking chills
Pressure or pain in the rectum.
Pain in lower abdomen or back
Urgency to urinate low discharge of urine.
Lack of sexual desire.
Ejaculation pain.

2- Benign hyperplasia or enlarged prostate.

The enlarged prostate is not related to cancer or puts you at risk of suffering. However, for very similar symptoms to prostate cancer signs, it is very important to pay attention, and act in time to rule out a serious illness. Ten percent of men over 30 years suffer of benign prostate enlargement. When men reach age 40,  will have another enlarged prostate. Ninety percent of men have an enlarged prostate because of his age because as I mentioned before, it grows as men advance in age. Some men who already got an enlarged prostate will not present signs. Prostate enlargement will cause several signs or symptoms such as:

Thinning urinary stream.
Pain or burning when urinating.
Increased urination at night.
Urinary incontinence.
Feeling of not completely emptying the bladder. When the bladder can not be emptied completely can cause infection by bacteria in the urinary tract or formation of calculi or stones.
Stop and start again several times when  urinating.

Drugs or eventually surgery will significantly improve this condition.

3- Prostate Cancer

This condition is the most common malignancy among men, and the second  cause of death. It is painless, and its growth is very slow. Prostate cancer can take many years to develop, and symptoms may appear up to 10, 20 or 30 years after the cellular changes began. Like any cancer, malignant cells can move and cause serious problems in other organs of the body, what is known as metastasis. Prostate cancer can spread in pelvic ganglia, usually metastasize to the bones, so pain in bones or back may eventually be recognized as a sign of ADVANCED PROSTATE CANCER 

Pain or burning when urinating.
Weak or intermittent stream urination.
Increased urinary frequency at night.
Blood in urine or semen.
Painful ejaculation.
Pain in pelvis, hip or back.


Who  are at high risk of getting  prostate cancer?

Blacks, whites, Hispanics and American Indians. It is in this order that the races are high to lower risk of getting prostate cancer. African Americans top the list with the population most at risk of contracting it  because it begins to develop  much earlier than any other race.
Be over 50 years increases the chance of developing prostate cancer.
Having parents or siblings who have had this disease, and even breast cancer.

What to do when you reach fourty years old?

A regular check up is advised to avoid future problems.

PSA test laboratory:

There is a laboratory test called PSA that measures prostate specific antigen. If the person has prostate cancer  high levels of this protein which is produced by the prostate will be found on blood. Along with this laboratory test, it is advised to face the dreaded rectal exam, which is the main reason why most men do not approach the doctor on time. The fear of knowing the result, or the fear and shame of being touched on  genitals, make millions of men avoid take this important check. It is the same fear that women experience when the word "papanicolau" is mentioned.

The digital rectal exam:

The rectal examination will be performed by a physician who with a gloved, lubricated finger, will insert it into your rectum to know if you experience pain on palpation of the prostate, feel the texture and firmness of the prostate, looking for any bulges or irregular growth . This test will last only a few seconds. It is embarrassing, I understand, but with only a few seconds, you can save your life. 

If the laboratory result leaves altered PSA, your doctor will refer  to a urologist for a biopsy or sampling of skin or tissue of the prostate in order to take new decisions regarding treatment or surgery obviously depending on each particular case.

General recommendations:

If you are a man over 40 years please pay attention and try to follow the following recommendations:

Get at least a yearly medical check up which includes the review of your prostate and PSA test laboratory.

Pay attention to the size of the stream of urine and other symptoms described above, and especially if there is already cancer  in the family.

Keep track of the time and amount of urine.

Ensure that when urinate no blood is present, or the the stream is not weak or diverted. 

Observe any irregular situation, and immediately contact your doctor. Early diagnosis can save your life.

I hope this information is very useful for you. Please do not forget to share with others. Thank you. See you soon ;)
Cynthia R. Costa Rica.

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