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Managing conditions of the prostate gland in primary care

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Primary care and community nurses have a crucial role in screening for, diagnosing, and treating prostate disease, including prostatitis and prostate cancer, as well as making referrals to other services. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men, and chances of developing it increase as a man ages.

Prostate disease is a general term that covers a number of medical conditions affecting the prostate gland. There are three main conditions that affect the prostate gland: benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatitis, and cancer of the prostate.

Benign prostatic hyperplasia

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a common condition affecting older men. BPH occurs when there is an increase in the size of the prostate gland without any malignancy. The prostate is a hormone-dependent gland and secretes about 70 per cent of the volume of seminal fluid. In men with bilateral orchidectomy, BPH does not occur.

BPH can occur before the age of 45 years, but this is unusual. The prostate increases in size with passing years but at a decelerating rate. Between the ages of 31 and 50 years, the gland doubles in size every 4.5 years, but this rate reduces subsequently.1

There is no standardised clinical definition of BPH. As a result, the prevalence of BPH is difficult to estimate. Lower urinary tract symptoms are commonly associated with BPH and are used as a marker.2

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