The Prostate Gland

What Is the Prostate Gland and What Does It Do?

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The prostate gland is an important normal structure in men. It has significance both as a normal part of the anatomy, but also as a location where important medical conditions such as prostate cancer can develop.

What should you know about the prostate gland?

The prostate gland's location and normal function.

The prostate is a small, walnut-sized structure that is situated just below the bladder. The urethra, a thin tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the body, runs directly through the prostate.

The prostate's primary function is to produce some of the fluid that makes up semen.

What can go wrong with the prostate gland?

The prostate can develop a number of conditions that can cause problems. In the majority of these conditions, the prostate reacts to the condition by becoming inflamed or enlarged.

If the prostate enlarges, it can cause the flow of urine out of the bladder to become somewhat obstructed. This can result in urinary symptoms such as frequency (needing to urinate more often), dribbling, hesitancy (not being able to urinate immediately when desired), and other symptoms.

When the prostate is enlarged or inflamed, it also can produce increased amounts of PSA (prostate specific antigen). PSA can be measured in the blood to determine if it is higher than normal. The PSA test is one of the primary ways that prostate cancer is first detected.

What Conditions Can Involve the Prostate?

Three primary conditions can afflict the prostate and result in symptoms.

  1. Prostate Cancer
  2. BPH (or Benign Enlargement of the Prostate)
  3. Prostatitis


    Kumar V, Abbas A, Fausto N. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease 7th Edition. 2004.

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