All men have one, only half of them know where it is and none of them can spell it. The prostate (not prostrate – which means ‘lying flat’) is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, that sits under the bladder by the urethra (the urine duct) and makes fluid that passes into the seminal duct to help sperm swim along.
If it gets swollen it can act like a clamp, making it harder to urinate. This is very common in men later in life. It’s either caused by inflammation of the prostate (prostates) or, more commonly, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and affects one in three men over the age of 60. Although there is no clear link between BPH and prostatic cancer, other than difficulty peeing, too many men avoid going to their doctor. In both cases, the earlier you know what’s happening the better.
Prostate cancer is increasing at an alarming rate. Currently, roughly one in ten men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, however the World Cancer Research Fund estimates that one in four men will have a diagnosis of prostate cancer during their lives by 2018.
Prostate cancer can vary from a relatively harmless condition to a serious illness, and its frequency increases with age. A small amount of prostate cancer is commonly found in older men who have died from other causes, with up to 80 per cent of 80 year olds. According to Professor Jonathan Waxman of Imperial College, London, little spots of cancer occur in 70 per cent of 70 year olds, 60 per cent of 60 year olds and 50 per cent of 50 year olds, but their relationship with the development of aggressive cancer is unknown. A non-aggressive type of prostate cancer is known as prostatic intra-epithelial neoplasia or PIN. Some doctors regard PIN as being a precursor of cancer, however not all agree.
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