What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in men. It is part of the male reproductive system. The prostate is about the size and shape of a walnut. It sits low in the pelvis, below the bladder and just in front of the rectum. The prostate helps make semen, the milky fluid that carries sperm from the testicles through the penis when a man ejaculates. The prostate surrounds part of the urethra, a tube that carries urine out of the bladder and through the penis.

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are passing urine more during the day
  • Have an urgent need to pass urine
  • Have less urine flow
  • Feel burning when you pass urine
  • Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine
  • What prostate changes should you be aware of?

Growing older raises your risk of prostate problems. The three most common prostate problems are:

  • Infection (prostatitis)
  • Enlarged prostate ( BPH, or benign prostatic hyperplasia)
  • Prostate cancer

One change does not lead to another. For example, having prostatitis or an enlarged prostate does not raise your chance of prostate cancer. It is also possible for you to have more than one condition at the same time.

Most men have prostate changes that are not cancer.

What are common tests for prostate changes?

Abnormal findings from any of these tests can help diagnose a problem and suggest the next steps to take:

  • DRE (digital rectal exam)–a test to feel the prostate
  • PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test–a blood test
  • Biopsy–a test to check for cancer
  • *Information taken from

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