Health & Safety

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Prostate Diseases

28 March 2009

The prostate gland is a small gland about the size of a large walnut weighing about 20g, only found in men.

Diseases

The closeness of the prostate gland to the urinary tract means that any problems with the prostate can have side effects on the bladder and the urethra. There are three main problems associated with the prostate gland, these problems are known as lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS). These problems tend to occur at different stages in a mans life.

  • prostatitis, an infection of the gland, is most common in the age range 20-40. It affects about 30% of men during this time. Prostatitis is broken down into four main types of infection, Acute Bacterial Prostatitis, Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis, Chronic Non-bacterial Prostatitis and the last Prostatodynia which causes pain and discomfort.
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland occurs slowly usually after the age of 45 years. Fourteen percent of men in their 40's and forty percent of men in their 70's have symptoms of BPH.
  • prostate cancer, common in men over 55 years old, although it is possible for it to occur earlier.

Most men will delay seeking treatment / advice for prostate problems due to many reasons, fear, embarrassment, fear of surgery etc. Research has shown that men will delay in seeking treatment by as much as four years citing the reason as acceptance of growing old. It is very important that advice / treatment is sought as soon as possible as other more serious problems may occur as a result of non-treatment.

Prostatitis

Prostatitis, an infection of the gland, is most common in the age range 20-40. It affects about 30% of men during this time. Prostatitis is broken down into four main types of infection, Acute Bacterial Prostatitis, Chronic Bacterial Prostatitis, Chronic Non-bacterial Prostatitis and the last Prostatodynia which causes pain and discomfort.

The treatment of Bacterial Prostatitis depends on the bacteria involved, if it can be identified then a simple course of antibiotics can be given. Both partners should be treated simultaneously and sexual contact should be avoided.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

BPH can be treated in many ways depending on the symptoms and the man's wishes.

Drug Treatment

There are two main ways of dealing with BPH using drugs.

  1. Drugs that relax the gland
  2. Drugs that shrink the gland
Surgical Treatment

Surgical options include removal of all or part of the prostate gland.

Prostate Cancer

The incidence of prostate cancer in the UK is increasing with approximately 15,000 new cases being recorded each year. The annual death rate in the UK is approximately 9,800.

Prostate cancer is sometimes divided into two types: a slow growing but steadily progressing tumour, relatively common in older men; and a much more aggressive form of the disease more commonly suffered by younger men.

Cancer of the prostate gland is rare in men under the age of 45 but as age increases so does the incidence rate. The treatment of prostate cancer depends on two factors, the individual and the extent of the problem. Localised prostate cancer in men under the age of 70 who are in good health can be treated by radical prostatectomy or radiotherapy.

It is important to know before any course of treatment is taken that there is a risk of infertility or impotence. If a man should wish to father another child then a sperm deposit will have to be taken prior to the treatment.

Palliative Treatments
  • Hormone Therapy - hormone treatment used to shrink the prostate gland, can be taken by injection or by nasal spray.
  • Orchidectomy - removal of the testicles. Implants may be used for cosmetic purposes.
Radical Treatments
  • Radiotherapy - the treatment is designed to shrink the size of the gland or to relieve the pain of secondary bone cancer.
  • Radical Prostatectomy - this treatment aims to cure the and is becoming very popular. The drawbacks (complications) can be impotence approx 70% or incontinence approx 10%.

CWU Advice Leaflet

The CWU Health and Safety & Environment Department has produced a guide of the signs and symptoms of Prostate and Testicular Cancer. Copies of the CWU guide are available from Branch offices or you can view the PDF version

Telephone advice line

Men's Health Matters: Advice Line: (020) 995 4448.


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