The prostate is a small organ that is part of the male system of urinary and genital organs. It is located under the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is a tube that drains urine from the bladder through the penis. The primary function of the prostate gland is to produce part of the fluid that makes up semen.
There are three basic kinds of prostate disease:
- Enlarged prostate
- Prostate cancer
At UT Southwestern Medical Center, physicians in the Prostate Diseases Program are actively engaged in the research of many treatments and can offer patients the opportunity to participate in clinical trials, if appropriate.
In addition to an annual physical examination that includes blood, urine, and possibly other laboratory tests, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society suggest consulting your physician about tests to evaluate the prostate gland.
These recommended tests include:
- DRE (digital rectal examinations)
- Usually conducted annually for men over the age of 50; physician consultation suggested for men in high-risk groups, including African-Americans or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer, at age 45
- PSA (prostate-specific antigen)
- Usually conducted annually for men over the age of 50; physician consultation suggested for men in high-risk groups, including African-Americans or men with a strong family history of prostate cancer, at an earlier age
If the DRE or PSA are unusual, your physician may repeat the tests or request an ultrasound and other procedures.
These evaluation tools may include:
- Transrectal ultrasound (TRUS)
- Uses sound wave echoes to create an image of the prostate gland to visually inspect for abnormal conditions such as gland enlargement, nodules, penetration of tumor through capsule of the gland, and/or invasion of seminal vesicles; also used for guidance of needle biopsies of the prostate gland and/or guiding the nitrogen probes in cryosurgery
- Computed tomography scan (also called a CT or CAT scan)
- Uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional images (often called slices), both horizontally and vertically, of the body; shows detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs; more detailed than general X-rays
- Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
- Uses a combination of large magnets, radio frequencies, and a computer to produce detailed images of organs and structures within the body
- Radionuclide bone scan
- Helps to show whether the cancer has spread from the prostate gland to the bones. The nuclear imaging procedure involves an injection of radioactive material that helps to locate diseased bone cells throughout the entire body, suggesting possible metastatic cancer.
- Lymph node and/or prostate biopsy
- Removal of tissue samples with a needle or during surgery for examination under a microscope to determine if cancer or other abnormal cells are present; required for confirmation of cancer diagnosis
Our physicians may also conduct a cystoscopy, post-void residual volume test, urinalysis, urinary flow study, and/or urodynamic study to evaluate the prostate gland.
The Prostate Diseases Program at UT Southwestern is dedicated to conducting advanced research into the causes and cures for prostate disease. This research, combined with our extensive clinical experience, enables UT Southwestern to provide patients with the best possible medical care.