The prostate is a small, but important gland (organ) in the male reproductive system. The main role of the prostate is to make fluid that protects and feeds sperm. The prostate makes about one third of the fluid that is ejaculated (released) from the penis at orgasm (sexual climax).
In young men, the prostate is about the size of a walnut (20g) and it gets bigger as a man get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the top part of the urethra. Urine passes through the urethra on its way from the bladder to the penis.
The growth of the prostate relies on testosterone (male sex hormone). If the prostate grows too large, it can slow or stop the flow of urine.
As the prostate is located near the rectum (back passage), growth of the prostate can be checked by a rectal examination where a doctor places a gloved finger into the rectum.
Prostate problems include:
- benign prostatic hyperplasia (also known as BPH or prostate enlargement)
- prostate cancer.
There are several tests that can lead to a diagnosis of prostate cancer, including the PSA test. Once a diagnosis of prostate cancer has been made a man and his doctor must decide what steps to take next for management and treatment. Doctors will talk about the use of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) with men who have certain kinds of prostate cancer, or when prostate cancer progresses.