Function of Prostate
The prostate secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
During ejaculation, the prostate squeezes this fluid into the urethra, and it’s expelled with sperm as semen. Also the prostate contracts during ejaculation preventing the retrograde flow of the fluid back to the bladder.
Prostate fluid is unusually rich in the minerals zinc and potassium, as well as citric acid and fructose.
This fluid serves several functions in reproduction.
In addition to serving as a medium for sperm delivery, it is thought to energize the sperm cells, and helps to make the vaginal canal less acidic.
Because of its close proximity to the bladder and urethra, how the prostate works also directly affects the function of the male urinary system. Consequently, there is often a direct relationship between prostate health and quality of life for older men.
Causes & Symptoms
The cause of prostate cancer is unknown, but the cancer is not thought to be related to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The risk (predisposing) factors for prostate cancer include: advancing age, genetics (heredity), hormonal influences, environmental factors such as toxins, chemicals and industrial products.
The chances of developing prostate cancer increase with age. More than 80% of prostate cancers are diagnosed in men older than 65 years.
There are no warning signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. Once a malignant tumor causes the prostate gland to swell significantly, or once cancer spreads beyond the prostate, the following symptoms may be present:
A frequent need to urinate, especially at night
Difficulty starting or stopping a stream of urine
A weak or interrupted urinary stream
Leaking of urine when laughing or coughing
Inability to urinate standing up
A painful or burning sensation during urination or ejaculation
Blood in urine or semen
These are not symptoms of the cancer itself; instead, they are caused by the blockage from the cancer growth within the prostate and surrounding tissues.
What is Screening?
Screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms. This can help find cancer at an early stage. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread. It is important to remember that your doctor does not necessarily think you have cancer if he or she suggests a screening test. Screening tests are given when you have no cancer symptoms. Screening tests may be repeated on a regular basis.
Digital rectal examination – (DRE) is a procedure where the examiner inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check the size, shape, and texture of the prostate. Areas that are irregular, hard, or lumpy need further evaluation, since they may contain cancer.
Prostate Specific Antigen – (PSA) is present in small quantities in the serum of men with healthy prostates, but is often elevated in the presence of prostate cancer or other prostate disorders.
Men at the age of 40 should be offered a baseline PSA test and a prostate exam (digital rectal exam or DRE) to ascertain the risk of prostate cancer.
Depending upon various factors like age, Gleason score (measure of aggressiveness), PSA, lifestyle and quality of life may contribute in choosing the optimal treatment. Treatment options include:
High Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)