15 August 2012
Men have been told of the common problems which can affect the prostate, as well as advice on how to stop the issues from developing.
Dr Ian Banks, president of the Men's Health Forum, pointed out that many people will instantly think about prostate cancer when discussing medical problems surrounding this part of the body.
However, the expert has been keen to underline that prostate cancer is only one of three serious conditions of the prostate that can hinder a man's health at different stages of their lives – prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) being the other two.
Dr Banks explained in more detail: "The three main problems with the prostate are prostatitis, which often occurs in younger men. BPH, the enlarged prostate, kicks in at middle age onwards. Prostate cancer itself tends to be in older men."
Here is a look at the three common prostate problems in more detail, as well as ways to prevent each from developing into a major health issue.
A health condition that results in the inflammation or infection of the prostate gland, prostatitis is more likely to affect younger men, but can also develop at later stages of a person's life too.
"It is very vague in the way it presents. It can be very resistant to treatment and it is poorly recognised sometimes by the individual and sometimes by the general practitioner," Dr Banks acknowledged.
Symptoms that may suggest that a man is suffering from prostatitis include pain when urinating, problems when urinating, pain around the scrotum and at the tip of a person's penis and discomfort when ejaculating semen.
In order to prevent prostatitis from developing, Dr Banks stated that the evidence is already there to state that trauma is a major factor for the progress of the condition.
"Cycling is on the big increase. You can buy saddles which are specifically for men and these protect the prostate so you can avoid, to some extent, prostatitis when it is caused by trauma," the medical expert selected as a perfect example to thwart the disease's development.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia
BPH is distinguished as an increase in the size of the prostate gland where there are no signs of malignancy present. The condition commonly develops as a man ages and one theory is that it is caused by a failure of apoptosis – the natural system for the death of body cells.
Explaining why BPH is very common in older individuals, Dr Banks stated: "The vast majority of men over the age of 80, for instance, will have an enlarged prostate. The older you get the bigger the prostate gets.
"There is a bit of an old joke that the definition of male middle age is when your prostate is bigger than your brain, so this obviously links into the age factor."
The expert was keen to add though that BPH "is now very treatable and you don't need surgery all the time".
Should surgery be required to stunt the progression of the disease, men should expect to be put on a trial of medical therapy following the operation.
It has also been suggested in past studies that factors such as obesity can advance the development of BPH, so healthy diet programmes when progressing into retirement are highly recommended.
There is a reason why prostate cancer is the condition that comes to the forefront of the mind when talking about health problems with this part of the body.
After all, more than 40,000 men are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK and around 250,000 of the country's citizens are currently living with the condition.
Looking further into the disease, Dr Banks stated: "Prostate cancer is rare under the age of 50. Prostate cancer risk increases with age also but it isn't linked to the enlarged prostate.
"Men do confuse the enlarged prostate with the risk of prostate cancer. There is no connection between the two. You have to look at this on an age basis."
Furthermore, the chances of a person developing prostate cancer does increase if someone else in their immediate family, such as their father or brother, has suffered from the disease themselves. However, Dr Banks highlighted that this is only a marginal risk increase.
There are plenty of treatments for prostate cancer, with the options hinging on whether the condition is still contained in the prostate gland, spread just outside of the gland or has progressed around a person's body.
Dr Banks also pointed out: "Prostate cancer, even when it is advanced cancer, is rapidly becoming a long-term medical condition where men are living much, much longer than ever before. We are not talking just months anymore but years longer and that quality of life can be very high."
Posted by Edward Bartel
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