The Prostate

Article excerpt

"Do you see decay, consumption, rum-drinking, dropsy, fever, mortal cancer or inflammation? Do you see death, and the approach of death?" -Walt Whitman (1819-1892) U.S. poet, Leaves of Grass (1900)

Below a man's urinary bladder and in front of his rectum lies a gland the size, the anatomist Henry Gray described, as that of a castana. But, it can be thought of more as a pilonga that is fittingly, a dried chestnut. It is the prostate. As in most parts of the anatomy it is unnoticed and unappreciated until one day it starts giving problems.

The prostate belongs to the male reproductive system. Part of it envelops the urethra or the common tube exiting in the penis (where urine and semen pass). A known function of the prostate is secreting the fluid that forms part of the ejaculate. This fluid makes the vaginal environment less acidic and less hostile to sperm.

Risk Factors. The prostate is not immune to cancer. In fact, researchers theorize that in a high-fat diet, the excessive fat increases the production of the hormone testosterone which in turn revs up the cancer cells. It runs in families so if a brother or father has prostate cancer, the chances of getting it increases. Age is a risk factor. The risk increases as the male gets older.

The horror of prostate cancer is compounded by consequences of treatment such as bladder problems and impotence (erectile dysfunction to the faint-hearted). However, the good news is that if the cancer is detected early, treatment success is high and side-effect may be temporary. Signs & Symptoms. Here's the downside: signs and symptoms when already detectable may mean that the cancer has gone beyond the prostate. Nevertheless, watch out for: * Pain during urination.

* A dull ache in lower pelvis.

* Urgency to urinate.

* Difficulty starting urination.

* Hematuria (blood in the urine).

* Weak urine flow and dribbling.

* Loss of weight and appetite. …