The Prostate Health Education Network

Welcome to Dr. PSA. "Prostate Health 101" provides basic information about your prostate and prostate health for education and awareness purposes. This information will help you to discuss with your doctor decisions about screening and treatment choices for prostate cancer - known as informed / shared decision making.

For personal medical advice please consult your physician. This information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered or used as medical advice.

What Is The Prostate?
The prostate is a sex organ. The prostate gland is a collection of glands that are covered by a capsule. It lies below the bladder, encircles the urethra (the tube that carries urine and semen out of the penis), and lies in front of the rectum. Nerves located next to the prostate take part in causing an erection of the penis. The prostate, when normal, is about the size of a walnut. The gland produces some of the seminal fluid to the ejaculate that protect and serve as nutrients to sperm.

Prostate health is important to men's sexual health. Women do not have a prostate.

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What Is PSA?
PSA stands for Prostate Specific Antigen. PSA is a chemical that is produced by prostate cells, both normal and cancerous. Normally, only a small amount of PSA gets into the bloodstream. However, when the prostate is irritated, inflamed, or damaged, such as in prostatitis and prostate cancer, PSA leaks into the bloodstream causing the PSA level to rise. The normal range for the PSA has historically been thought to be between 0 - 4. Current thinking is that the normal range varies with age and race. Once a baseline normal PSA has been defined, the rate of change of the PSA over time becomes more important.

The PSA level is measured through a simple blood test.

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What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a malignant growth of the glandular cells of the prostate. A malignancy is a cancerous growth. Prostate cancer can spread locally into surrounding tissues, or cancer cells can break away from the tumor and spread to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer can, but not always, cause death. It is curable with early detection and proper treatment. It is not contagious

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What are symptons of a Prostate Problem?
Common symptons include; frequent urination, getting up at night to urinate, hesitancy and intermittency during urination. These symptons could mean an enlarged prostate, prostate cancer or other prostate problems.

Prostate cancer gives no typical warning signs that it is present. With more advanced disease, you may have fatigue, weight loss, generalized aches and pain, and bone pain may be present.

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What Is Prostate Cancer Screening?
The goal of prostate cancer screening is the early detection of prostate cancer, ideally at the curable stage. Screening is composed of both a digital rectal exam and a PSA test. Both of these are important in the screening process, and an abnomality in either of these warrants futher evaluation. more recent studies are showing increased survival as a result of prostate cancer screening. African American men should begin screenings at age 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer, and no later than 45 if there is no family history.

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Is Your PSA Rising?
Anything that irritates or inflames the prostate can increase the PSA. Sexual intercourse may increase the PSA up to 10%. Because the prostate gland can continue to grow as one ages, The PSA may increase slightly from year to year, reflecting this growth. Some medical opinions say that the PSA should not change by more than 0.7 per year, or by more than 20% of the previous year's level. The rate of change in the PSA over a period of time is called the PSA velocity. Men should closely monitor their PSA velocity.

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What Is A Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) ?
The prostate lies in front of the rectum and the back wall of the gland can be felt by the doctor putting a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feeling for any abnormalities. A DRE exam can be performed by a urologist or by an experienced primary care provider. The DRE is an important part of prostate cancer screening because cancer is sometime detected with this exam when not detected with a PSA test.

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What Is The Best Prostate Cancer Treatment ?
Prostate cancer treatments range from "watchful Waiting" to radical surgery. The best type of treatment for an individual depends upon a number of factors. These include; cancer stage, overall health, age and a number of other considerations. Typically it is best not to rush into selecting a treatment until the various options, and their specific impact on you, are clearly understood through thorough consultations with treatment specialists.

Treatment options include;
*Watchful Waiting (monitoring with no active treatment)
*Radical Prostatectomy (surgery)
*External Beam Radiation
*Brachytherapy (internal radiation through radioactive seed implants)
*Hormone Therapy

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