Prostate Issues Frequently Occur in Men over 50
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Quick Facts About Prostate Problems
- Fortunately, most problems are not cancer. Even if cancer is diagnosed, the relative five-year survival rate for all men is nearly 100 percent.
- The most common prostate problem diagnosed in men over 50 is prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP). This condition occurs because the prostate continues to grow as a man matures, potentially squeezing the urethra and affecting bladder control.
- The prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut that is located in front of the rectum just below the bladder. It wraps around the urethra, which carries urine out of the body. Regardless of age, men should see a doctor immediately if they notice any signs of prostate problems, such as:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Having to get up during the night to urinate
- Presence of blood in urine or semen
- Feeling pain or a burning sensation while urinating
- Inability to urinate
- Painful ejaculation
- Recurrent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvic area or upper leg
Diagnosing prostate problems may involve several tests, the first of which is usually the digital rectal exam (DRE). During a DRE, the physician inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate and evaluate its size, shape and condition. A prostate-specific antigen blood test may be ordered to screen men without symptoms. Magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography scans can also be used to identify abnormal structures.
If BHP is diagnosed, the condition can be managed several ways. Mild symptoms may not require any treatment. However, regular checkups are necessary to make sure the condition does not worsen. Other options include surgery or taking medications to shrink or relax the prostate so it does not block the bladder opening.