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Disorders of the prostate

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Updated: 4/11/2007 5:47 pm
The prostate is a small organ located below the bladder, which produces one of the fluid components in semen. There are three types of prostate problems that can arise: infection, enlargement, and cancer. Prostate infections, known as acute prostatitis (prost-uh-TIGHT-iss), are caused by bacteria. Symptoms may vary from mild pain in the lower abdomen, groin, back, or around the rectum, to fever, chills, and burning or difficult urination. Antibiotics and extra fluid intake are the standard treatment. Another disorder is prostate enlargement, known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. To some degree, BPH occurs in most elderly men, though it may not cause problems for everyone. When it does, you may have trouble urinating, a need to urinate frequently, or notice dribbling afterward. If symptoms aren't bothersome, a doctor may simply wait to see what develops. Medication is one option, but surgery to remove part of the prostate is usually the most effective. The most serious condition is prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer death in men after lung cancer. However, prostate cancer is also one of the most treatable cancers, because it tends to be slow-growing. At the age of 50, the American Cancer Society recommends annual digital rectal exams and the PSA, or prostate specific antigen [AN-tuh-jen] blood test, which can detect this disease in its early stages, when a chance for cure is highest. To find out more about disorders of the prostate, consult a urologist.
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