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Prostate Problems

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Do you know your odds of developing a prostate problem? Do you know what you can do about it? WebMD has assembled the following information to help you improve your chances of avoiding prostate trouble.

What Are the Most Common Prostate Problems?

For such a little gland, the prostate seems to cause a lot of concern. Like a troubled, war-torn country, it's in the news all the time and something always seems to be going wrong there, but you don't really know where it is or why it's important.

All men are at risk for prostate problems. That's because all men have a prostate. Take a look at this overview of prostate problems to assess your risk for trouble with your prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH, also known as an enlarged prostate, is growth of the prostate gland to an unhealthy size. A man's chances of having BPH go up with age:

  • Age 31-40: one in 12
  • Age 51-60: about one in two
  • Over age 80: more than eight in 10

However, only about half of men ever have BPH symptoms that need treatment. BPH does not lead to prostate cancer, although both are common in older men.

Prostate Cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men (besides skin cancer). About one man in six will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Let's keep these numbers in perspective, though. Because prostate cancer is usually slow growing, only about one in 35 men will die of prostate cancer.

Like BPH, the risk for prostate cancer increases with age. About two out of every three men with prostate cancer are over 65. No one knows exactly what causes prostate cancer, but risk factors associated with it include:

  • Family history. Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles your risk.
  • Race. African-American men are more likely to get prostate cancer than Caucasians, and the cancer is usually more advanced when discovered.

African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer usually begin prostate cancer screening at an earlier age than Caucasian men who do not have prostate cancer in their family history.

Prostatitis. Unlike most prostate problems, prostatitis -- inflammation or an infection of the prostate -- occurs more often in young and middle-aged men. Only 5% to 10% of men develop prostatitis in their lifetime.

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