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The 3 most common problems associated with the prostate

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One in five men will experience a problem with their prostate at some point in their lives. A small gland situated below the bladder, a troublesome prostate can cause sexual problems and make it difficult to urinate. This article will outline the three most common problems associated with the prostate, an enlarged prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)), prostatitis and prostate cancer.

Here at London Urology we offer ‘one-stop’ prostate clinic that treats all prostate problems using advanced surgical therapies and intervention.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland situated below the bladder. It surrounds the top of the urethra, a thin tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The urethra also transports semen, containing sperm, to the penis from the seminal vesicle. About the size of a walnut, the prostate produces a fluid which mixes with sperm from the testicles, creating semen. This is then stored in the seminal vesicle, a tube-shaped gland that sits behind the bladder.

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There are three common problems associated with the prostate that can cause a range of different issues for men:

An Enlarged Prostate (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

What is it?

An enlarged prostate (BPH) is a common condition that comes with ageing. As a man progresses into middle age the prostate will naturally grow in size. By the time a male reaches 40 it is likely the prostate will have grown to be the size of an apricot. By the age of 60 it is likely to be the size of a lemon. 1 in 3 of all men over the age of 50 will experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate.

Whilst prostate growth is a natural part of ageing, it can however cause a number of health issues if it grows too large. An enlarged prostate can put pressure on the urethra, which can affect how you urinate.

Symptoms of an Enlarged Prostate

• Urinating more frequently or more suddenly.
• Waking up repeatedly in the night to urinate.
• A weak urine flow.
• Straining when urinating.
• Difficulty starting or stopping urinating.
• The feeling of not being fully able to empty the bladder.
• Prolonged dribbling after urinating.

Who is most at risk?

The prostate starts to gradually enlarge around the age of 25 but most men won’t experience any difficulties urinating until after the age of 50. It is estimated that approximately 8 out of 10 men beyond the age of 70 suffer from an enlarged prostate.

Prostatitis

What is it?

Prostatitis is a term used to describe a set of symptoms that are a result of an inflammation or infection in the prostate. It is a complicated condition and often doctors are unable to pinpoint its cause, making it difficult to treat.
There are 2 main types of prostatitis:
Chronic prostatitis – symptoms come and go over a period of several months. It’s the most common type prostatitis and is usually not the result of an infection.
Acute prostatitis –Symptoms are severe and sudden. It’s rare, but can be serious and requires immediate treatment and it is always caused by an infection.

Chronic prostatitis

Someone may have chronic prostatitis if the following symptoms have lasted longer than 3 months:

Symptoms

• Pain in and around the penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back.
• Pain when urinating.
• A frequent or urgent need to urinate, particularly at night.
• “Stop-start” urinating.
• An enlarged or tender prostate on rectal examination.
• Sexual problems, such as erectile dysfunction, pain when ejaculating, or pelvic pain after sex.

Acute prostatitis

Someone experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical attention so that the cause can be investigated and appropriate treatment administered.

Symptoms

• Severe pain in and around the penis, testicles, anus, lower abdomen or lower back. This can make passing poo painful.
• As with chronic prostatitis, problems when urinating (urinating frequently at night and “stop-start” urinating). There may also be blood in the urine.
• Not being able to urinate. Known as ‘acute urinary retention’ this can lead to a build up in the bladder and needs urgent medical attention.
• Generally feeling unwell, with aches, pains and possibly a fever.
• A small amount of thick fluid (discharge) may come out of your penis.

Who is most at risk?

It can affect men of any age but it’s most common in younger and middle aged men, typically between 36 and 50.

Prostate Cancer

What is it?

Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate multiply in an uncontrolled manner. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with, presenting few signs and symptoms. In some cases it may never cause any problems. However it is often the case that the cancer will start to spread into the surrounding areas of the body. The patient in question would then require immediate treatment.
It is worth noting that the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are similar to those associated with an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, diabetes and some medicines. It is therefore important that you always seek a medical opinion to rule out prostate cancer.

Symptoms

There are few early signs of prostate cancer. A man would only notice any early symptoms if the cancer was to grow near and press against the uretha, as they would notice changes in the way they urinate. Prostate cancer generally grows in different parts of the prostate though so early symptoms are rare. A change to the way a man urinates is also more likely to be a sign of an enlarged prostate.

Possible early symptoms of prostate cancer:

• Difficulty starting to urinate or emptying the bladder.
• A weak flow when urinating.
• Dribbling urine after urinating.
• Experiencing a sudden urge to urinate and urinating more often, especially at night.
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate (locally advanced prostate cancer) or spreads to other parts of the body (advanced prostate cancer), it can cause other symptoms, including:
• Back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
• Problems getting or keeping an erection
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Unexplained weight loss.

Who is most at risk?

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as a man gets older. The average age for a man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. Those with a family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer may also be slightly more at risk.
Black men are also more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds. Scientists are still working to ascertain exactly why, but they believe it may be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

Make an appointment

At London Urology we specialise in the treatment of prostate problems and offer a dedicated One Stop Prostate Clinic that uses advanced surgical therapies and provides fast intervention. We have a team of specialist Consultants who are able to offer same day appointments. For enquires and appointments please email londonurology@hje.org.uk or call 020 7078 3802.

Flexible appointment times are available

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