Prostate Surgery

What is the prostate gland?

All men have a prostate, an apricot-sized, muscular gland that produces some of the ingredients of semen. It sits just in front of the rectum and below the bladder. Weighing around 1 ounce (30 grams), the prostate surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. It is vital for the proper functioning of the male reproductive system. In this article, we will explain what the prostate does, its basic structure, and what medical conditions can affect the prostate.

Conditions affecting the prostate

There are a number of ways in which the prostate can cause medical problems, including: Prostate cancer — this is the most common form of cancer in males, affecting around 1 in 7 men during their lifetime. Around 1 in 39 men die of prostate cancer. Enlarged prostate — also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), this affects almost all men aged 50 or over. It makes it difficult to urinate and, in rare, serious cases, can prevent urination entirely. Most commonly, the enlargement occurs in the transition zone. Prostatitis — an inflammation of the prostate; this is sometimes caused by an infection.

Prostate medical tests

The prostate and its function can be tested in a range of ways: Digital rectal examination — the doctor inserts a finger into the rectum and feels the prostate. This can detect lumps, nodules, and cancer. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) — blood tests can assess the levels of this protein. High levels indicate an increased risk of prostate cancer. Prostate biopsy — a needle inserted into the prostate via the rectum can take a sample of tissue to be tested in the lab. Prostate ultrasound — also called a transrectal ultrasound, a probe is inserted into the rectum, positioning it close to the prostate. Sometimes a biopsy is taken at the same time.

In a nutshell

The prostate, a small muscular gland, produces an important fluid that transports sperm and keeps them safe. Although not vital for life, the prostate is vital for reproduction.