Prostate diseases are common problems for older men

The prostate is a small gland that sits below a man’s bladder that creates semen. As you age, your prostate can grow larger and develop prostate diseases such as prostate cancer, prostatitis (a bacterial infection in the prostate) or benign prostatic hyperplasia. These conditions tend to occur in men over age 50.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the most common prostate disease, affecting a third of all men in their lifetimes. If you have benign prostatic hyperplasia, your prostate has grown too large and is putting pressure on your urethra (the tube that carries urine from your bladder to your penis). This affects your ability to use the bathroom and results in symptoms such as:

  • Needing to go the bathroom a lot
  • Needing to go the bathroom quickly
  • A weak urine stream that may slow, stop or have trouble starting
  • Feeling like you have to go the bathroom even if you just went
  • Blood in your urine

All prostate diseases can have similar symptoms, so it is important to see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. If you have pain in addition to these symptoms, it is likely you have prostatitis.

Wait and see before prostate disease treatment

Working with your doctor and simply keeping an eye on your prostate health might treat all prostate diseases, even prostate cancer. The conditions may go away on their own or never become serious enough to require treatment.

Prostatitis may go away on its own or be helped by antibiotic medicines you can take by mouth. Pain relievers can also help keep you comfortable while your body fights off the infection.

Prostate cancer grows so slowly that some men may never need treatment. Younger men may need treatment to prevent cancer from spreading. Prostate cancer treatment includes surgery to remove the prostate, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and hormone therapy. These treatments can destroy cancer cells and prevent cancer from coming back.

You can treat benign prostatic hyperplasia with medicines that make it easier to use the bathroom and slow down how fast your prostate grows. If your prostate has grown very large, you may need special minimally invasive surgical procedures to reduce the size of your prostate. Many of these procedures use laser, radio waves or heat to destroy part of your prostate.

During a prostatectomy, your doctor may remove all or part of your prostate to help relieve the pressure your enlarged prostate puts on your urethra or bladder. These procedures are used less often for benign prostatic hyperplasia than for prostate cancer.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.