The Fono

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Prostate health

Some descriptionThe prostate is one of the male sex glands along with the testicles and seminal vesicles. Together these glands secrete the fluids that make up semen. The normal prostate is about the size of a walnut. It lies just below the bladder and surrounds the beginning of the urethra (the tube that runs through the penis). The prostates growth is influenced by male sex hormones.

The prostate gland grows quite a lot during puberty and then doesn't change much until about age 40, when it slowly begins growing again and, in many men, doesn't stop. Half of men aren't bothered by their growing prostate, but the others will develop one of three prostate diseases; enlarged prostate, prostate cancer, or prostatitis, or may have more than one.

Enlarged prostate
A non-cancerous disorder, an enlarged prostate is the most common prostate health problem among men. Half of men between the ages of 50 and 60 will develop it, and by the age of 80, about 90 percent will have experienced its symptoms. It may result in a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as frequent urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, a weak urine stream or difficulty starting urination. As the prostate slowly continues to enlarge, symptoms may gradually worsen, interfering with sleep, physical comfort and routine activities. In rare cases, an untreated enlarged prostate may lead to an inability to urinate, incontinence, bladder stones, kidney infections, and damage to the bladder, kidneys and urethra.

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate that may be caused by an infection. It's the most common prostate problem for men under 50—so common that about half of adult men in will be treated for it in their lifetime. There are three major types of prostatitis which include bacterial prostatitis, non-bacterial prostatitis and prostatodynia. Diagnosis is usually made during a DRE (digital rectal exam). Diagnosing prostatitis isn’t easy, so the most important diagnostic tool your doctor has is you and your detailed descriptions of your symptoms. Prostatitis is not considered a serious disease, and it doesn’t lead to cancer. But it’s painful, extremely inconvenient, and sometimes difficult to cure. There are a number of treatment options that usually provide relief, including antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and surgery.

Prostate cancer check
1 in 10 NZ men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Some will need treatment and some will live with it, however don’t take any chances. In its early stages prostate cancer does not usually exhibit symptoms. When symptoms begin to appear then it is frequently too late for effective curative treatment. This is why regular check-ups are so important. From age 40 you should get an annual prostate cancer check – starting with a simple blood test. Prostate cancer is curable if you get to it early enough.

Regular prostate tests are important for men who:

  • Are over the age of 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer
  • Are older than 50, but younger than 70

Men having any problems such as pain, fever, swelling of the prostate, and blood and pus in the urine or problems passing urine should see your Fono doctor immediately.

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