The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men that produces fluid that is a component of semen. The gland has two or more lobes-or sections-enclosed by an outer layer of tissue. Located in front of the rectum and just below the bladder, where urine is stored, the prostate surrounds the urethra, which is the canal through which urine passes out of the body.
The most common prostate problem in men under 50 is inflammation or infection which is called prostatitis. Prostate enlargement is another common problem. Because the prostate normally continues to grow as a man matures, prostate enlargement, also called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH, is the most common prostate problem for men over 50. Older men are at risk for prostate cancer as well, but it is much less common than BPH.
The most common tests your doctor or nurse will perform first require no special preparation. Digital Rectal Exams (DRE) and a blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test are often included in routine physical examinations for men over 50. For African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, it is recommended that these tests be given to all men starting at age 40.
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