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The prostate gland is just below the bladder, behind the pubic bone and just in front of the rectum. The prostate wraps around the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis.
Prostate Gland Function:
The prostate helps to control the flow of urine.During sexual activity,the seminal vesicles that are attached to the prostate produce a protein that mixes with prostatic fluid which forms semen. The tubes from the testicles carry sperm up to the prostate where sperm is mixed with the seminal vesicle and prostatic fluids. This fluid is ejaculated during orgasm through ejaculatory ducts that connect to the urethra.
As my radiology professor at chiropractic college, Lindsay Rowe, DC, DACBR, always used to say, "Other than eunuchs, if you live long enough, all men will either die of prostate cancer or die with it." It is a frightening thought for men, especially considering that cases are being reported in the literature in men under 40 years of age now. But there are ways to fight back. As mentioned above, early detection like all cancer therapy, is a key element in any man's concerted effort to monitor himself. At Boston Spine Clinics, we strongly urge all men over the age of 36 to start getting regular, yearly checkups for this condition. The check up is two fold; visiting your PCP/internist and having him/her perform 1) a manual(digital) rectal exam. The prostate is unique in that it can be palpated by hand right inside the rectum. If it appears hard, mishaped and/or swollen it is a sign that it needs to be checked further. 2) Obtain a yearly or at least bi-annual PSA blood test. PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. This simple blood inventory is easily investigated. PSA is an enzyme produced in the prostate that is found in the seminal fluid and the bloodstream. An elevated PSA level in the blood can mean several things such as casual inflamation, mild infection or perhaps early cancer degeneration. Many men with elevated PSA values DO NOT have cancer. However, the so-called normal levels need be in the range of 0-4 nanograms per mililiter. This is widely believed to be the cutoff where the sensitivity for detecting prostate cancer is the highest and the specificity for detecting non-cancerous lesion the lowest. If the PSA value is elevated, your PCP/internist may suggest a biopsy to confirm whether or not cancer has begun in your prostate.
Bear in mind, the PSA, while innovative and widely accepted, is not perfect. A man can have prostate cancer and still have a "normal" PSA. About 25% of the men with prostate cancer had PSA values under 4.0. Add to that, only around 25% of the men with elevated PSA values in the 4-10 ng/ml range actually had prostate cancer. When the PSA spikes over 10 ng/ml, the chances that it is indicative of cancer jumps to 65% or better. *Note the story I related in the "Pain Discussion" section. That poor soul had a 1800 ng/ml level of PSA. There was no doubt in his case.
Like most doctors and the Prostate Cancer Foundation itself, Boston Spine Clinicsstrongly urges all men over 39 to start getting general, PREVENTIVE check-ups yearly with their PCP or internist. This exam should, by definition, include PSA screening as well as a digital rectal exam. Early detection, as in most cases of illness, is the ultimate key to preventing the problem in the first place.