Common prostate problems

Have you been having difficulty emptying your bladder? Do you feel the need to go to the bathroom more often? Does the need to urinate at night wake you?

If so, you may be having problems with your prostate.

What does the prostate do?

The main prostate function is to produce the fluid in semen and ejaculate. The prostate is a gland located under the bladder that surrounds the urethra, the tube that caries urine.

What are the common prostate problems?

Common prostate problems in men are enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.

Enlarged prostate

Enlarged prostate is also known as Benign Prostatic Enlargement (BPE). As the prostate gland grows bigger it presses on the urethra and obstructs the lumen difficulty in emptying the bladder. BPE is a very common condition as men get older. In their 60’s, half of the men hasve varying degree of prostate enlargement*.

Signs and symptoms:

  • trouble starting to urinate
  • feeling the need to urinate frequently and have trouble holding back
  • dribbling after urinating
  • needing to get up more often to urinate at night time
  • decreased force of the weak urine stream
  • urinary infection
  • blood in the urine

Treatment:

The doctor may arrange a urine flow assessment and observe the condition for a while to see if there are signs of improvement. Medication to relax the muscles or shrink the prostate may be prescribed. If the condition is bad, a tube, may be put into the urethra and left in for a week or two to help empty the bladder.

In extreme cases, enlarged prostate treatment may include surgery. The prostate can be removed by a traditional surgical method Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP); or by laser enucleation (Holmium Laser Enucleation of Prostate); or even some new office-based treatments such as water vapour therapy or prostate urethral lift, which can preserve sexual function. The doctor will discuss the best treatment options.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the fourth leading cause of male cancer deaths in Hong Kong. It is commonly seen in men over 50 years old and in those with a family history of prostate cancer. The cause is unknown but people who are overweight; have a poor diet - high fat and calories; and smoke are at higher risk of prostate cancer.

Signs and symptoms:

  • frequent urination at night
  • difficulty in passing urine
  • pain on passing urine
  • blood in urine
  • erectile dysfunction

Treatment:

Prostate cancer treatment depends on age, overall health and the aggressiveness of the cancer cells. Treatment options include robot-assisted surgical removal of the prostate, radiotherapy or surveillance. As all options have their own merits and drawbacks, the doctor will discuss the treatment options that are in your best interest.

What can you do to prevent prostate problems?

Though the causes of the prostate problems are unknown, here are three tips you can follow to keep your prostate healthy and prevent serious problems.

  1. Do regular screening
    • A regular health check can detect early onset of symptoms and prevent serious illnesses. Choose a health check programme that covers men’s health. To test for prostate health, this should include a blood test for a prostate cancer marker (Prostate-specific antigen, PSA) and a digital rectal examination or prostate ultrasound to screen for enlargement and possible changes. Alternatively, you can add these tests on to a basic screening programme. Be extra vigilant if there is a family history of prostate cancer.
  2. Eat and drink right
    • Following a plant-based diet can help reduce risk of prostate problems. Fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals are all rich in antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory which can lower the risk of cancer.
    • If you are having frequent urination at night, limit beverages such as alcohol, coffee, soda and strong tea as they act as diuretic; and avoid drinks at least 2-3 hours before bed time.
    • Learn more about healthy eating for prostate health.
  3. Maintain a healthy weight
    • A healthy weight, BMI and percentage body fat along with moderate exercise at least 3 times per week can help reduce the risk of prostate problems.

 

* Naslund MJ, et al. Int J Clin Pract 2007;61:1437–45

If you experience any of the above symptoms, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Don’t know where to go? Call the Matilda Medical Centre at 2537 8500 or the Matilda Outpatient Department at 2849 1500 to book for an appointment or simply click here to book: