Common Diseases of the Prostate
The common diseases of the prostate include: prostate enlargement, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH); prostatitis; and prostate cancer. All of these conditions tend to trigger an increase in serum PSA, i.e. the level of PSA in the blood. This is why it is not possible to diagnose a specific prostate disease based only on a patient’s PSA level. In contrast, an MRI scan of the prostate does provide a reliable basis for distinguishing between the three common prostate diseases.
For more on this subject, please refer to Prostate MRI.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
The term benign prostatic hyperplasia refers to a benign enlargement of the prostate. The enlargement occurs when noncancerous nodules (adenomas) begin to proliferate in the transition zone of the prostate gland. This is a disease or a condition that occurs in almost all men as they age, i.e. as they enter and pass middle age. Men tend not to notice the enlargement until it begins to compress the urethra, which often triggers a more frequent urge to urinate and other forms of urinary dysfunction.
For more on this subject, please refer to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia.
The term prostatitis refers to inflammation of the prostate gland. Unlike benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis occurs commonly in men of all age brackets. The condition can be either acute or chronic. Men who are affected by acute prostatitis are likely to notice the condition immediately because it causes a burning sensation when urinating.
In contrast, chronic prostatitis may go unnoticed. Chronic prostatitis is characterized by isolated areas of inflamed tissue in the prostate, a condition that is actually quite common in men and does not generally pose a health risk. Many researchers regard such chronic infections as the aftermath of less severe acute infections. However, it is important to bear in mind that chronic prostatitis can also trigger an increase in PSA levels in some men.
For more on this subject, please refer to Prostatitis.
Prostate cancer is a malignant disease that also occurs more frequently in men as they age.
Prostate cancer may differ significantly in terms of its malignancy. Treatment for the condition will also tend to differ depending on the degree of malignancy involved. However, even though a case of prostate cancer might be less malignant than another case, it is fundamentally a matter of a malignant change to an area of prostate tissue. The initial tissue changes involved tend to be asymptomatic, leaving most men oblivious to the fact that they have cancer. This is why prostate cancer screening in the form of PSA blood testing is so important. If testing shows that your PSA level is elevated, your doctor will usually advise you of the importance of determining the cause.
In rare cases, prostate cancer may also cause the prostate to increase in volume – for instance, when a malignant tumor in the prostate has grown significantly. Such rare cases often indicate that the tumor has extended beyond the prostate and invaded neighboring structures. At this stage, of course, the cancer will not be asymptomatic and those affected will know that something is wrong.
For more on this subject, please refer to Prostate Cancer.