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The Prostate Gland and Aging

The prostate is a small gland that is a part of the male reproductive system. It is located directly below the bladder and just in front of the bowel. The prostate gland is similar to a doughnut, in that it surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The main function of the prostate is to produce a fluid that carries sperm through the penis when a man ejaculates.

The average 20 year old male has a prostate the size of a walnut. (1A) As a man ages, the prostate enlarges, creating complications. By age 40, the average adult male prostate is similar in size to that of a golf ball. (1B) When a man reaches age 50, the average prostate is approximately the size of a lime. (1C) An estimated 50% of men at this age will begin to notice signs and symptoms resulting from an enlarged prostate.

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Rectal exam for enlarged prostate Prostate Biopsy

Prostate Exams
and Tests

Dr. Riemenschneider will first need to know about your prostate concerns. You will be asked about your symptoms, such as difficulty urinating or pain with urination, and how long you have been experiencing these problems. The standard way to detect prostate health is through a digital rectal exam. This test involves the doctor inserting a gloved, lubricated finger through the rectum to feel the prostate for irregularities.

A blood test, the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, is also available for detecting prostate changes. PSA is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate. If the test results present with high levels of PSA, there is cause for suspicion of prostate issues. PSA is prostate specific, not prostate cancer specific. Prostate cancer cells produce more PSA in volume compared to regular prostate tissues. However, high levels of PSA may also be present for benign enlargement of the prostate.

An additional way to identify changes within the prostate is through a urine analysis. PCA3 is a genetic marker in the cells of the prostate. These cells shed from the prostate and can be detected in urine. When a prostate malignancy occurs, the PCA3 level in urine will be extremely elevated.

Abnormal findings may suggest that cancer is present. The only definite way to diagnose prostate cancer, however, is to have a prostate biopsy. Under local anesthesia, sample tissues will be taken directly from the prostate through a needle. Under a microscope, tissues will be examined in order to determine if cancerous cells are present.

If you have a problem urinating please try this questionaire and contact Riverside Urology.

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