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    What Is the Prostate?

    Enlarged Prostate continued...

    Treatments include:

    • Watchful waiting. Patients who have an enlarged prostate but who are not suffering symptoms or whose symptoms are not bothersome may be advised by their doctor to merely get an annual checkup, which might include a variety of tests.
    • Making lifestyle changes. Changes could include limiting drinking at night and before bedtime, especially drinks containing alcohol or caffeine.
    • Drug therapy. Two common treatments for BPH are alpha-blockers, which alleviate BPH symptoms, and 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, which help shrink the prostate. Many men take them together. The FDA is revising labels on several BPH drugs -- Proscar, Avodart, and Jalyn -- to include a warning that the drugs may be linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer.
    • Surgery. This is generally used for men with severe symptoms who haven't been helped by other treatment.


    There are four types of prostatitis. Prostatitis is an infection or inflammation of the prostate. It can affect men in their late teens to those well into old age. Its symptoms include trouble passing urine, chills and fever, and sexual problems. The condition is not contagious and cannot be transmitted sexually to a partner. Treatment usually includes antibiotics.

    A man who has recently had a catheter or other medical instrument inserted into his urethra is at higher risk of bacterial prostatitis. Some sexually transmitted diseases, such as chlamydia, may cause chronic prostatitis.

    Maintaining Prostate Health: Tests

    Doctors use several tests to check on the condition of the prostate. They include:

    DRE, or digital rectal exam: This is the standard prostate test. A doctor feels the prostate from the rectum, checking for things such as size, lumps, and firmness.

    PSA , or prostate-specific antigen test: This blood test measures the amount of a protein called PSA that is produced by prostate cells. Elevated levels may indicate cancer. They are not, though, proof that a man has prostate cancer. Levels may be elevated with noncancerous prostate conditions such as an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. Levels may be low with prostate cancer.

    Screening for prostate cancer is controversial.

    The American Cancer Society says that, starting at age 50, men should talk to their doctors about the benefits, risks, and limitations of prostate cancer screening before deciding whether to be tested. The group's guidelines make it clear that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood testing should not occur unless this discussion happens.

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