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What is Prostate Cancer?

Posted by Brad Walsh on 16/08/ 2012

What is Prostate Cancer?

The prostate is a male-only organ located immediately below the bladder and just in front of the bowel. The prostate surrounds the first stage of the urethra - the duct through which urine flows out to the penis. A normal prostate is about the size of a walnut and weighs about as much as a 20 cent coin. However, this tiny organ can cause men many problems.

There are three common disorders (see below) however all can have similar symptoms, which could include one or more of the following:

  • Waking frequently at night to urinate
  • Sudden or urgent need to urinate
  • Difficulty in starting to urinate
  • Slow flow of urine and difficulty in stopping
  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Decrease in libido - sexual urge
  • Reduced ability to get an erection

Most men who experience any of these symptoms believe it is due to the ageing process. However it is strongly advised that a doctor is consulted should you feel any of these symptoms as this may prevent any serious health concerns.


There are three common prostate disorders:

1. Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer is the only disorder of the three that has the potential to be life threatening. The cancer usually develops without men noticing any of the symptoms.

The condition of Prostate Cancer is where cancer cells of the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal prostate cells, causing the prostate to develop a tumour. Unlike Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (see below), Prostate Cancer cells can eventually disseminate from the prostate and invade other parts of the body producing tumours remote to the prostate - known as metastasis. Treatment is possible however, once the cancer escapes, there is no cure.

Provided appropriate treatment commences while the cancer is still confined wholly to the prostate gland, it is possible to cure it.

To be cured early diagnosis is critical, so men should make themselves aware of the disease and be tested regularly from aged 50 plus or if you have a family history start as early as age 40.

2. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH enlargement of the prostate is quite common in older men. It is common for men aged 50 years onwards to experience an enlarged prostate. Difficulties in urination may occur when the enlargement is sufficient enough to squeeze the urethra, which passes through the prostate.

If these symptoms or any others as listed above occur you should consult your doctor immediately. Treatment may include antibiotics or if more developed an operation to widen the urethral passage. The operation is done under a general anaesthetic and involves a few days in hospital. BPH rarely progresses to Prostate Cancer.

3. Prostatitis

Prostatitis the least common of the prostate disorders. Of the three disorders this is usually found in younger men and is an inflammation of the prostate, which is NOT Prostate Cancer. Early diagnosis can be treated with antibiotics. If ignored it may be difficult to treat.


Source: pcfa.org.au