Prostate Problem Guide
Why Are Enlarged Prostate Symptoms So Often Ignored?
In spite of the fact than many men experience enlarged prostate symptoms in their mid-forties or fifties, many men will not be diagnosed with prostate cancer until they are in their seventies and the disease is sufficiently advanced that it cannot be cured.
Often an enlarged prostate is not a problem and, even if it does become a problem, it can be treated without presenting any real threat. Additionally, an enlarged prostate is often simply an inconvenience which many men feel that they can live with quite happily and for which they certainly don't need to bother a doctor. The problem however is that, although not connected, cancer can develop alongside an enlarged prostate and, as prostate cancer is normally very slow growing, it can quite easily be masked by enlarged prostate symptoms.
One answer would be to make prostate cancer screening a routine procedure for men in their forties or fifties.
There are a number of different types of prostate screening, but the first line of screening is normally a digital rectal examination, or DRE. This is a simple examination in which the doctor inserts a gloved and lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the prostate gland to assess its size and to identify any irregularities.
A second less invasive test is the prostate specific antigen, or PSA, test. This is a simple blood test to look for the presence of antigens in the blood which are specific to the prostate. This test will not in itself indicate the presence of cancer but repeating the test and monitoring the results over time will indicate whether or not there is a likelihood of cancer developing and thus whether or not further more specific testing should be undertaken.
To provide a definitive diagnosis of prostate cancer a doctor may, in the first instance, order a cytoscopy and transrectal ultrasonography. A cytoscopy permits the doctor to inspect the urinary tract using a thin camera inserted through the penis. A transrectal ultrasonography is carried out by inserting a probe into the rectum and building a picture of the prostate gland using sound waves.
As a final test, and really the only test that can definitely confirm the presence of cancer, the doctor may order a biopsy. A typical biopsy will be carried out through the rectum with a needle being inserted into several different parts of the prostate gland to remove small pieces of tissue for microscopic examination.
Prostate screening is something of a controversial subject which much of the debate having as much to do with politics and economics as it does with medicine. Nevertheless, the fact remains that prostate cancer is a serious condition which kills millions of men every year and that an early diagnosis would certainly reduce the number of deaths from this disease very considerably.