There are three main conditions that frequently affect the prostate gland :
- Prostatitis which is inflammation or infection of the prostate gland.
- Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) which is the nodular enlargement of the prostate gland due to an increase in the number of cells (not malignant).
- Prostate cancer which is a malignant tumor of the prostate gland.
The prostate gland is an accessory gland in males sitting beneath the bladder and encircling the urethra. It produces and secretes prostatic fluid into the urethra which makes up about 20% of the semen. This fluid is essential to activate the sperm cells and maintaining normal motility and functioning.
The different prostate problems often present in a similar manner, especially in the early stages, with varying degrees of urinary problems and urinary pain commonly reported. Further investigation like cytology and culture of urine or expressed prostatic secretions, measuring and monitoring the PSA levels or a prostate biopsy may be necessary to conclusively identify the type of prostate problem.
An inflamed prostate gland may be due to infectious or non-infectious causes. Usually there is a pre-existing disorder of the prostate or urinary tract. Prostatitis can be classified as :
- Acute bacterial prostatitis
- Chronic bacterial prostatitis
- Chronic prostatitis without infection / chronic pelvic pain
- Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis
The symptoms of prostatitis are similar although asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis and some cases of chronic prostatitis may be asymptomatic meaning that there are no symptoms. Some of the common symptoms of prostatitis includes :
- Dysuria – pain or burning sensation upon urination
- Straining to urinate and post-micturition dribble
- Frequent urination, particularly at night (nocturia)
- Urinary tenesmus – urgency to urinate
- Pain upon ejaculation
- Pain in and around the prostate gland as described under prostate pain
- Hematuria – blood in urine
Fever, chills and malaise may be seen in acute infections.
Related prostatitis articles :
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)
BPH is a nodular enlargement of the prostate gland due to an abnormal increase of cells. It is so common in men over the age of 50 that it is often seen as part of the process of aging. BPH is a chronic condition marked by episodes of acute exacerbations and occasional infections. It may remain asymptomatic for long periods of time with symptoms of varying intensity present in acute exacerbations. The main symptoms associated with BPH are a result of compression of the urethra and bladder.
Some of the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia includes :
- Difficulty starting urination
- Persistent urge to urinate with small volumes of urine
- Frequent urination with an sensation that the bladder is not empty
- Post-micturition dribble
- Prostate discomfort with blood in the urine especially during an infection
Related BPH articles :
Prostate cancer is a malignancy of the prostate gland and is one of the common cancers seen in men over the age of 50. Cancer is characterized by the presence of rapidly dividing abnormal cells, unlike benign prostatic hyperplasia where there is abnormal increase of normal cells. There are different types of prostate cancer but the most common type is an adenocarcinoma. Other types such as small cell and squamous cell carcinoma are rare.
Some of the symptoms of prostate cancer includes :
- Difficulty urinating
- Weak urine stream
- Urinary retention
- Blood in the urine (hematuria)
- Blood in the semen (hematospermia)
- Pelvic pain or discomfort
Other symptoms such as unintentional weight loss, back pain, bone pain and swelling of the legs may also be seen in more advanced cases of prostate cancer.