The Prostate

Prostate enlargement is also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). 

As a man matures, the prostate goes through two main periods of growth. The first occurs early in puberty, when the prostate doubles in size. At around age 25, the gland begins to grow again. This second growth phase can result years later in BPH. 

Although enlarged, the prostate rarely causes symptoms before age 40. More than half of men in their sixties and as many as 90% in their seventies and eighties have some symptoms of BPH as a result of the enlarged gland pressing on the urethra like a clamp on a garden hose. As a result, the bladder becoming ‘irritable,’ contracting even when it contains only small amounts of urine, causing more frequent urination. Eventually, the bladder weakens and loses the ability to empty itself, and urine remains in the bladder.

Symptoms of BPH vary but the most common involve changes in urination such as a hesitant interrupted weak stream, urgency/leaking or dribbling, and more frequent urination especially at night. But more serious problems can arise over time if the condition goes untreated.

Prostate cancer affects ~1 in every 6 men in the United States. It usually grows slowly, initally remaining confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. If the cancer is detected early - while still confined to the gland - there is a much better chance of successful treatment. However, there are other forms of prostate cancer that are more aggressive and spread quickly. 

Early signs/symptoms of prostate cancer may include the generalized urinary symptoms found with BPH or prostate infection. Yet, <5% of cases have urinary problems as the initial symptoms. In some cases, prostate cancer may not produce any noticeable symptoms, so many cases of prostate cancer aren't detected until the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. For most men, prostate cancer is first detected during a routine screening such as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test or a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Although many men feel uncomfortable talking about the prostate, it's an important talk to have since the gland plays a role in both urination and sex. Discuss any symptoms or problems you're experiencing with Dr. Shalita.