The prostate is a small gland found only in men or people assigned male at birth (and some intersex people). It sits just under the bladder surrounding the tube that carries urine out of the body (urethra). The prostate gland produces a thick, white fluid that gets mixed with sperm to create semen. The prostate gland is about the size and shape of a walnut but tends to get bigger as you get older. It can sometimes become swollen or enlarged by conditions.
Benign Prostate Enlargement (BPE) is when the prostate grows but is not cancerous and starts to cause urinary symptoms. One in three men over fifty years has bothersome symptoms, and it is thought to affect up to three million people in the UK. As the prostate gland grows symptoms can include hesitancy (difficulty in starting to urinate), Frequency (the need to pass urine often), Nocturia (the need to pass urine at night) or Retention (difficulty in emptying your bladder).
BPE can sometimes lead to complications such as urinary tract infections, chronic urinary retention, or acute urinary retention so it is important you talk to a healthcare professional if you start to have symptoms.
You may need several tests to diagnose an enlarged prostate and treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Your healthcare professional may monitor the situation and recommend some lifestyle changes like caffeine reduction as an example. Medication can help to reduce the size of the prostate, relax your bladder, or treat some of your symptoms. Catheterisation or surgery may also be recommended.
Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs within the prostate and is the most diagnosed cancer in men in the UK (1 in 8 men) and more than 52,000 men are diagnosed each year in the UK. The exact causes of prostate cancer are not known but the chance of developing the disease increases as you get older. Prostate cancer is more common in black men and less common in Asian men and there is a slight increase in risk if you have a father or brother also diagnosed with the disease.
Many men with prostate cancer have no urinary symptoms as the cancer can be slow growing, sometimes the cancer is so slow to grow and not causing symptoms treatment is not needed as it will not affect how long you live.
Some prostate cancers grow faster, cause symptoms and are more likely to spread to other parts of the body.
Symptoms of prostate cancer can include urinary problems like benign prostatic disease and can include difficulty in passing urine, poor stream, blood in the urine or semen, bone pain, weight loss and erectile dysfunction.
It is important you speak to a health care professional if you have any urinary symptoms or are concerned about your risk.
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