Is it Prostate cancer? No, it’s just Prostatitis

With all the awareness campaigns on prostate cancer, you may be very worried when you start feeling pain ‘down there’ latest popular is. Don’t worry just yet. There’s a lot more to your prostate than ‘getting cancer’. Here’s the lowdown on the down-low:

What exactly is the prostate?

The prostate gland is a small gland directly below the bladder in men. It’s roughly the shape and size of walnut or golf ball, and produces fluid (semen) that nourishes and transports sperm. Prostatitis is swelling and inflammation of this gland.

What causes prostatitis?

Prostatitis is more common in men 50 years of age or younger. It can be caused by many different things. It is often caused by a bacterial infection, and it can usually be treated with antibiotics. However, sometimes the exact cause is never identified.

How would I know if I have prostatitis?

Prostatitis usually presents with painful or difficulty when passing urine. Other symptoms include pain in the groin, pelvic area or genitals and sometimes flu-like symptoms.

Depending on the cause, prostatitis may come on gradually or suddenly. It may get better quickly, either on its own or with treatment. Some types of prostatitis last for months or keep recurring, this is called chronic prostatitis.

Important: If you have pelvic pain, difficult or painful urination, or painful orgasms or ejaculations, see your doctor. If left untreated it can cause worsening infection or other health problems. If you’re unsure, chat to one of our doctors via the App.

Diagnosing and treatment

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein produced by the prostate, is often used to screen for prostate cancer. Prostatitis can also cause elevated levels of PSA, but levels are usually lower than in cancer.

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There’s no direct evidence that prostatitis can lead to prostate cancer.

Diagnosis is made based on medical history, symptoms and a thorough examination, which might include a rectal examination. Other tests may include blood culture, urine tests or bladder tests.

Prostatitis treatments vary depending on the underlying cause. They can include:

  • Antibiotics
  • alpha blockers
  • non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
  • prostate massage.

Home remedies may lessen some symptoms of prostatitis:

  • try soaking in a warm bath
  • avoid sitting for a long time or sit on a pillow
  • limit or avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy or acidic foods.
  • avoid bicycling, or wear padded shorts and adjust your bicycle to lessen pressure on your prostate

So, next time you have any uncomfortable symptoms in an uncomfortable area, don’t get scared, get going: visit your doctor. Whether it’s cancer or not, the only way to  be sure, is with the necessary investigations. Who knows? A warm bath may be all you need!


By Dr Ingrid de Beer for