Only men have a prostate gland. It is the size and shape of a walnut and is found underneath the bladder and in front of the rectum. The prostate surrounds the tube (the urethra) that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. Its main role is to make the fluid that carries a man’s sperm (semen).
The three most common prostate problems are an enlarged prostate, prostatitis and prostate cancer.
What is prostate cancer?
The growth of cells in our body is carefully controlled. As cells die, new cells grow to replace them. Cancer develops when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. If this happens in the prostate, then this indicates cancer.
Worldwide more than 680,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. It is the second most common cause of cancer death in men in the Western world, after lung cancer. Rates of detection of prostate cancers vary widely across the world, with South and East Asia having far fewer cases than in Europe and the United States. Men of African descent have a much higher risk of developing the disease, although the reason for this is unknown. Prostate cancer often grows slowly and mainly affects older men.
Prostate cancer does not usually result in physical symptoms, but some men may notice pain in their bones if the disease has spread. Symptoms related to urinating, such as increased frequency or a slow stream, are often caused by another prostate condition – benign enlargement of the prostate (BPH). In patients with serious complaints caused by an enlarged prostate, the chance of finding prostate cancer is actually reduced.