prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system. It is located just below
the bladder and wraps around the urethra. The prostate gland measures 3-4 cm
long and 3-5 cm in width. On average, the prostate gland weighs 20 grams. The
prostate consists of approximately 30% muscular tissue while the remaining is
Seminal vesicles are attached to the prostate and produce material that mixes
with prostatic fluid to form semen. The tubes from the testicles carry sperm to
the prostate, which mixes with the seminal fluid and is ejaculated during
The prostate may increase in size as age progresses. This condition is called
benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). More than 40% of men have an enlarged
prostate by the age of 70. Enlargement of the prostate causes it to press
against the urethra and weaken the flow of urine. An increase in size may
indicate the condition of benign prostatic hyperplasia or a urologic condition.
It need not necessarily indicate the growth of cancer cells. Benign prostatic
hyperplasia does not increase the risk of prostate cancer but indicates the
possibility of occurrence.
Three common diseases of the prostate are benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH),
prostates and prostate cancer. Each condition affects the prostate differently.
The male sex hormone, testosterone, plays an important part in the normal growth
and function of the prostate gland. The testicles produce testosterone and is a
concern for those diagnosed with hormone-dependent prostate cancer. As long as
testosterone is produced, prostate cancer is very likely to grow and spread
throughout the body.
The prostate has various concentric zones, known as the anterior fibromuscular
stroma, peripheral zone, central zone and transition zone. A doctor is able to
examine the peripheral zone by inserting a finger in the rectum. Benign
prostatic hyperplasia develops in the transition zone and grows in size. The
anterior fibromuscular stroma is the anchoring point of the urethra
sphincter. It does not contain any glands and hence cancer or enlargement does
not usually develop there. It is essential to contact a urologist in case one
experiences the symptoms to ensure early preventive care
The uncontrolled growth of cells around the outer
region of the prostate, which gives rise to the development of a malignant
tumor, is called prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is common among American
males. Over 250,000 cases are diagnosed in the United States every year.
Early signs of prostate cancer are difficult to detect. Symptoms only set in
once the tumor spreads. Change in urination habits with increased frequency or
dribbling are the first signs of prostate cancer. The cancer may spread from the
prostate to nearby lymph nodes, bones or other organs, leading to a condition
called metastasis. As a result, some men experience back pain. Once the cancer
spreads beyond the prostate it is difficult to cure.
The growth of prostate cancer is relatively slow and may not be detected for
many years. It also takes longer to spread beyond the prostate. However, a small
percentage of patients experience more rapidly growing, aggressive forms of
prostate cancer. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know for sure which prostate
cancers will grow slowly and which will grow aggressively; this further
complicates treatment decisions.
The presence of cancer cells around the prostate determines the extent to which
the cancer has spread. It affects the areas surrounding the prostate such as the
seminal vesicle, lymph nodes, rectum and bones. Even when prostate cancer
spreads to other areas, such as the bone, it is still considered to be prostate
cancer and not bone cancer.
A variety of causes and contributing factors lead to prostate cancer. The major
risk factors are age, race and family history. The chances of prostate cancer
increase after the age of 50. The incidence of prostate cancer in Asian men is
the lowest. Caucasian and African American men are the largest groups afflicted
with the disease.
The prognosis for prostate cancer patients has improved over the years. The
survival rates for all stages of prostate cancer have increased from 67% to 97%.
Public awareness and early detection are the main reasons for the increase in