We need to talk about the prostate
Prostate problems; What is it, what is it for and what are the most common problems that affect this male gland
For a long time, several campaigns focused on men’s health recommended screening tests for prostate cancer. After all, prostate cancer is the second most common among men, after skin cancer, and early diagnosis increases the effectiveness of treatment.
However, studies have shown that tracking the disease in the absence of symptoms also has its problems. Therefore, the investigation needs to be a joint decision between doctor and patient. This does not mean that it is not important to talk about this subject.
On the contrary: prostate cancer affects about 65,000 men in Brazil every year and is responsible for the death of more than 15,000 of them. It is the second cancer that most kills men. In this article, we’ll cover:
what is the prostate
- Main diseases and how to diagnose
- Does a man without symptoms need a prostate exam?
- Men’s health beyond the prostate
what is the prostate
Prostate problems; The prostate is a gland located above the rectum, below the bladder and surrounding the urethra (the tube that connects the bladder to the external orifice of the penis). The main function of the prostate is to produce prostatic fluid, which makes up semen and protects sperm.
The size of an adult male prostate is approximately 4 cm wide and 3 cm high, and can be compared to the size of a walnut.
This gland increases with age: at 12 years old, it weighs about 4 g, at 25 years old, about 20 g and at 70 years old, it weighs between 50 and 70 g. But this natural growth can be accompanied by discomfort.
The main diseases and how to diagnose
The main problems related to the prostate are: benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis and prostate cancer. Symptoms may look like: Prostate
- difficulty urinating
- delay in starting and ending urination
- blood in the urine
- decreased stream of urine
- needing to urinate more often during the day or night
Have you noticed any of these symptoms lately?
It is always important to go to the urologist doctor to find out: Prostate problems.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia: benign enlargement of the prostate, which ends up compressing the urethra and making it difficult to pass urine. It is the main reason for more trips to the bathroom after the age of 50. But be careful: despite being a benign disease, stagnant urine can cause infections and kidney stones
- Prostatitis: inflammation of the prostate, usually caused by bacteria and can be treated with medication
- Prostate cancer: development of malignant cells in the prostate gland. In most cases, there are no symptoms in the first few years, but evolution to metastasis can happen.
The main risk factors for prostate cancer are:
Age: The risk increases with advancing age. In Brazil, out of ten men diagnosed with prostate cancer, nine are over 55 years old
Family cancer history: men whose father, grandfather or brother had prostate cancer before age 60 are at risk
Overweight and obesity: recent studies show a higher risk of prostate cancer in men with higher body weight, Prostate problems.
Does a man without symptoms need a prostate exam?
The Ministry of Health, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO), does not indicate that men without symptoms undergo screening tests. However, this is not a consensus among doctors.
It is recommended that this be a decision made by the physician and patient when weighing the risks and benefits of testing.
- Exams are simple to perform
- Tests help diagnose prostate cancer, which may not have early symptoms
- The earlier the diagnosis, the simpler the treatment and the better the evolution of the disease.
Possible risks: Prostate problems.
- The PSA test result may be elevated even when there is no cancer, and may be normal in some cases of cancer.
- Elevated PSA levels indicate the need for a prostate biopsy to confirm that there is cancer, and most of the time this is not confirmed. The biopsy can have complications such as bleeding and infection, in addition to causing pain, anxiety and stress in the man and his family.
- Diagnosis and treatment of a non-life threatening cancer can cause anxiety and result in urinary incontinence and sexual impotence
The United States Preventive Services Task Force updated its 2018 guideline for PSA testing for prostate cancer and recommends that for men ages 55 to 69, screening is an individual choice, and they should discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before making a decision.
However, the new guidelines still do not endorse screening for men age 70 and older.
Prostate problems; One reason is that prostate cancer in older men is likely to be slow growing. In addition, this group is less likely to die from prostate cancer and has a higher risk of side effects from treatment compared with younger men.
With or without a routine checkup, it is recommended that men see a doctor regularly to assess their overall health. Furthermore, the choice of prostate cancer screening should be an individual, medically supported one, and men should weigh any possible benefits against the potential harms of screening when making this decision.
Other important care for men’s health
Men’s health goes far beyond the prostate. Talking about men’s health is more than talking about a specific test. Did you know that men live, on average, seven years less than women?
Prostate problems;According to the Ministry of Health, the main reasons for mortality in the male population are: external causes (violence and accidents); diseases of the circulatory system; tumors (lung and prostate are the ones that kill the most); diseases of the digestive system and infectious and parasitic diseases.
A good part of these deaths have cultural causes: the lack of openness to talk about health and feelings and the male tendency to only go to the doctor in emergency cases.
Let’s change this painting? Small habit changes can help: paying attention to symptoms, talking more about physical and mental health and visiting the doctor annually needs to be in men’s routine too. In addition, a balanced diet, regular physical exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and smoking are attitudes that protect health as a whole.