The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. It is a small, round gland that is located in front of the rectum at the base of the bladder. Its primary function is to release fluid into the urethra during ejaculation.
During ejaculation, sperm travels from the testicle through tubes called the vas deferens. The vas deferens run behind the bladder and enter into the prostate gland. During its journey, sperm combines with seminal fluids, other components of ejaculate, from three sources - the seminal vesicles, the prostate, and the bulbourethral glands. The combined fluids, called semen or ejaculate, then travel the length of the urethra and out of the body via the penis.
Prostate cancer develops as small nodules or bumps on the surface of the prostate, which can be detected during rectal examination. There are many methods to treat prostate cancer. In most cases, the prostate does not need to be removed if the cancer is detected early. If prostate removal is necessary, the risk for erectile dysfunction increases because of the large number of nerves located near the prostate.
Men over the age of 50 should have routine prostate cancer screening as part of their regular health check up; this includes digital rectal examination and serum PSA testing. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk for prostate cancer.