“7 facts about the prostate that all men should know” is a collaborative post.
Some men tend to shy away from health topics but if there’s one essential health topic that needs to be discussed, it’s the prostate. Prostate health is an incredibly vital component of men’s health, especially in old age. Over time, there will be changes to this walnut-sized gland—such as enlargement—which may cause unnecessary alarm if one lacks proper information about the prostate.
As such, for men, taking the time to learn more about this part of the body is always a good idea. Armed with correct information, you’ll be empowered to make informed decisions about your health.
With that said, here are some facts about the prostate that all men should be aware of:
The prostate is part of your reproductive system
The first of our facts about the prostate is its location. Situated just below the bladder and encircling the urethra, the prostate gland produces secretions that keep the sperm cells alive and healthy until they reach an ovary to fertilise a female’s egg cell.
The prostate has different areas
The prostate may be small, but it actually has four separate areas. The biggest is called the peripheral zone, which is about 75 per cent of the prostate and where most of the prostate cancer occurs. The central zone is the part that surrounds the ejaculatory ducts; this is also where 5 per cent of prostate cancer forms. If the cancer originates from this area, it tends to be more aggressive and can metastasise to other areas, such as the seminal vessels.
The part of the prostate that gets enlarged is called the transition zone. It’s the balloon-shaped area around the urethra, right as it enters the prostate. About 20 per cent of prostate cancers occur in this area. Lastly, the fourth area is the anterior fibromuscular stroma, a small muscular tissue on the anterior side of the prostate.
In most cases, an enlarged prostate is not a major health concern
As men age, the prostate undergoes natural growth. This can lead to an enlarged prostate, a condition that may or may not be a cause for major concern. While it may bring inconvenience, such as changes in urinary habits, it doesn’t necessarily signal a severe health problem.
An enlarged prostate, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a very common condition that affects a lot of older men. According to Yale Medicine, about 50 per cent of men aged 51 to 60 have BPH; the chances of getting an enlarged prostate jump to 70 per cent at age 60 to 69 and up to 80 per cent for men over the age of 70.
For many men who have BPH, symptoms are limited to increased urinary frequency and urgency, as well as the inability to fully empty the bladder. These are minor symptoms that men typically won’t find necessary to see a doctor. However, monitoring and managing symptoms is crucial for a proactive approach.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men
In terms of cancers affecting men, prostate cancer takes the second spot, after skin cancer in terms of prevalence. Worldwide, there were about 1,414,259 diagnosed patients in 2020. An estimated 60 per cent of this number were men 65 years and older.
In Singapore, prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men with 6,912 cases or 16.8 per cent of all cancers. This figure came from the National Cancer Centre Singapore’s Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report, 2021.
Prostate cancer is more prevalent among men with African ancestry
While the risk of developing prostate cancer for most men is 1 in 8, the risk increases to 1 in 6 for men with Black and African ancestry. In terms of diagnosis, men of African descent are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with the disease; they are also 2.1 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than white men.
The good news is that prostate cancer has a fairly high survival rate, especially if caught early. It has a 5-year relative survival rate of 99 per cent, which means nearly all men diagnosed are expected to live for at least 5 years or more.
There are multiple treatment options for prostate cancer
Facing a prostate cancer diagnosis might feel daunting, but here’s a reassuring fact: prostate cancer is often treatable, especially when detected early.
Various treatment options, from surgery to radiation therapy and watchful waiting, offer a spectrum of choices. Engage in open discussions with healthcare providers to determine the best path for your individual situation.
Men in their 50s and older need regular screening
The risk factors for prostate issues increase with age, particularly for men in their 50s and beyond. That’s why regular screenings become a crucial part of maintaining prostate health during this stage of life.
The standard blood test for detecting prostate cancer is called the PSA test. It specifically measures the presence of a particular protein called prostate-specific antigen in your blood.
Final thoughts on facts about the prostate that all men should know
Understanding the role of the prostate gland, how it changes as men get older, and the risks associated with prostate cancer can empower you to be proactive and take control of your health. You need to realise that prioritising your health is not a sign of weakness but a testament to your strength.