When your prostate is healthy, it’s easy to treat it as out-of-sight, out-of-mind. Many men don’t give their prostate a second thought unless something specific triggers them that makes them take notice. Many men will have problems with their prostate at some point in their lives and these problems usually cause urinary symptoms. Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine.
Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have these urinary symptoms and need medical attention. For others, symptoms aren’t noticed until much later in life. There are three conditions that can affect your prostate: benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), prostatitis, and prostate cancer. Although each may share similar symptoms, those specifically associated with prostate cancer typically don’t become obvious until later in the course of the disease.
The three main types of prostate conditions are:
Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that may result from a bacterial infection. It affects at least half of all men at some time during their lives. Having this condition does not increase your risk of any other prostate disease.
Enlarged prostate (BPH)
This condition is common in men over the age of 60 and is caused when the prostate gland swells and starts to press on the urethra gradually restricting the flow of urine. This will cause discomfort and when there is serious retention of urine in the bladder, become quite painful. BPH is not linked to cancer and does not increase your risk of getting prostate cancer—however the symptoms for BPH and prostate cancer can be similar.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. Cancer of the prostate develops when normal prostate cells grow out of control. Generally speaking, prostate cancer is a very slow-growing cancer and will most often stay contained within the prostate. However in some men the disease can develop quickly and spread (metastasize) into other areas of the body. The disease can take years to develop and is one of the only cancers where many doctors recommend “active surveillance” as a treatment option.
General Symptoms To Look Out For
Symptoms associated with prostate problems don’t just develop overnight, but you may notice a gradual increase in the following urinary issues:
- A frequent urge to urinate (even if there’s little to no flow)
- Difficulty starting to urinate (straining and/or hesitancy)
- Feeling that your bladder isn’t completely empty after urinating
- A sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate
- Waking several times during the night to urinate
- Painful urination
It’s important to note that the presence of such symptoms doesn’t always mean you have a prostate related condition. The sooner you address these symptoms, the better you will be able to identify their cause and manage them. When it comes to making the diagnosis of prostate cancer and planning treatment, the other prostate conditions must also be taken into consideration. So it’s important that men know about all three problems—what they are, how they are treated, and their telltale symptoms.