- Know the normal anatomy of your prostate. A normal prostate is a small, squishy gland about the size of a walnut, located under your bladder and in front of your rectum. The nerves that control erectile function are attached to the sides of the prostate.
- Recognize the normal physiology of your prostate. Although the prostate is not essential for life, it’s important for reproduction. Many substances that facilitate fertilization and sperm transit and survival are produced by the prostate. Also, the antibodies that protect the urinary tract and sperm from bacteria and other pathogens, are produced there. The prostate grows during adolescence under the control of the male hormone testosterone and DHT.
- Identify your prostate zones. The prostate is divided into different anatomic regions. Most prostate cancer develops from the peripheral zone near the rectum. Hence, the digital rectal exam. On the other hand, BPH, a non-cancerous prostate condition, typically develops from the transition zone that surrounds the urethra. Therefore, patients with this condition have difficulty with urination.
- Learn how it alters your other body functions. Because of its proximity to several vital structures, prostate cancer and its treatment strategies may affect normal urinary, bowel, and sexual functioning.
- Urinary function: Normally, the urinary sphincters stay tightly shut, avoiding leaks of urine. During urination, the sphincters are relaxed and the urine flows from the bladder through the urethra and out of the body. When undergoing the surgical removal of the prostate, the bladder is pulled downward and connected to the urethra at the point where the prostate was. If the sphincter at the base of the bladder is damaged during the process or during radiation therapy, it can cause incontinence or leakage.
- Bowel function: Solid waste that’s filtered out of the body moves slowly down the intestines, and it’s excreted through the anus following conscious relaxation of the anal sphincter. If the rectum is damaged by radiation or surgery, it can result in bowel problems, including rectal bleeding, diarrhea, or urgency.
- Sexual function: If the erectile nerves are damaged during the surgical removal of the prostate or radiation therapy, the ability to achieve erection is lost, although sexual desire remains intact.
- Fertility: Around 10% of men with prostate cancer realize the cancer has either spread into the seminal vesicles or around them. When this occurs the seminal vesicles are removed along with the prostate or targeted during radiation therapy. This process renders men infertile. And although after removal ejaculation is dry, orgasms can still be experienced.
Perform a Self-Examination
Believe it or not the most common cancer among men under 50 is prostate cancer. Doing regular checks should be one of your top priorities.
When you’re taking a shower or bath, roll each testicle between your fingers and thumb and look for the following signs:
- Lumps in either testicle.
- Swellings or changes in firmness.
- Sudden collection of fluid in the scrotum.
- Enlargement of the testicles.
- Feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.
- Dull ache in the abdomen or groin
- Growth or tenderness of the upper chest.
If you find any of these signs or any other unusual thing, call your doctor immediately. Although most lumps are not cancerous, the earlier you receive an appropriate diagnose, the better.
This post is sponsored by Dr Harry Fisch, a http://www.harryfisch.com/ expert and Men’s health specialist from Manhattan. To make an appointment with Dr Fisch, call today at 212-879-0800.