The prostate gland has an important job: it produces a thick, milky-white fluid that becomes part of the semen, the liquid ejaculated during sexual activity. The gland isn’t big—about the size of a walnut or golf ball—but its location virtually guarantees problems if something goes awry. The prostate gland is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It also wraps around the upper part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body. That means prostate problems can affect urination and sexual function.
The prostate is prone to three main conditions:
Prostatitis: infection or inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can cause burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, trouble urinating, difficult or painful ejaculation, and pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (known as the perineum) or in the lower back.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia: aging-related enlargement of the prostate gland. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can make the prostate compress the urethra and slow or even stop the flow of urine, in much the same way that bending a garden hose chokes off the flow of water. BPH affects about three-quarters of men over age 60.
Prostate cancer: the growth of cancerous cells inside the prostate, which may break out of the gland and affect other parts of the body. In the United States, about 1 man in 7 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. It occurs mainly in older men.
Prostate Health & Disease Articles
Are calcium deposits in the prostate a sign of cancer?
Calcium deposits can sometimes form in the prostate gland, but they are not harmful and do not increase the risk for prostate cancer.
Big jump in active surveillance for low-risk prostate cancer
A Harvard-led study published Feb. 19, 2019, in JAMA found that among men with low-risk prostate cancer, use of active surveillance jumped from 15% in 2010 to 42% in 2015. Use of surgery and radiation to treat the disease fell significantly.
The growing problem of an enlarged prostate gland
By age 60, about half of all men will have an enlarged prostate. While the condition does not increase the risk of getting prostate cancer or having sexual problems, it can affect quality of life, specifically with annoying and embarrassing urination problems. Certain medications can help relieve symptoms, which means less urinary urgency and fewer nighttime awakenings to use the bathroom.
Men and urinary tract infections
Although urinary tract infections are more common in women, men can get them, too. They can protect against recurring infections by drinking plenty of water, using the bathroom when they need rather than trying to hold it, and practicing safe sex.
Prostate screening guideline highlights patient choice
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated its guidelines for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer, and now recommends that for men ages 55 to 69, screening should be an individual choice.
High-dose, shorter radiation therapy effective for some prostate cancer
Research has found that in men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer, a shorter course of hypofractionated radiation therapy can lower the risk of recurrence compared with a standard course of radiation therapy.
Does prostate cancer screening matter?
Updated guidelines for PSA testing suggest it offers only a small potential benefit for reducing the chance of dying of prostate cancer for men ages 55 to 69, and is not recommended for men age 70 and older. The guidelines may help protect men from unnecessary biopsies, radiation treatment, and even surgery. While the decision to have regular screening is never simple, it is a personal choice that depends on many factors, like a man’s age, level of risk, and family history.
Understanding the risks of supplements and herbal remedies for prostate cancer
Coping with prostate disease is never easy. You may find that established treatments are not always particularly effective and you may want to try other more natural methods for prostate cancer, such as herbs and supplements. But you should use them with caution, and always check with your doctor before taking any new type of medication.
An estimated one-third of American men with prostate cancer use at least one form of complementary medicine therapy, including herbs and supplements. Some studies have suggested herbs and supplements might help with prostate cancer treatment and support. But the main concern is that some herbs and supplements can interact with each other, or with your prescribed medications. For example, they may enhance the effects of some medications or negate any benefit.
New approach identifies returning prostate cancer
Researchers have mapped patterns of prostate cancer recurrence following surgery, which may help doctors find the best way to treat men whose cancer has returned. About 30% of men who have prostate cancer surgery will have a recurrence, according to the study in the Journal of Urology.
Shortened radiation therapy may help with low-risk prostate cancer
A new study found that men with low-risk prostate cancer may be able to undergo a shortened course of radiation therapy that cuts treatment by weeks and offers similar outcomes and quality-of-life results as longer treatment courses.