What is prostatitis?

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Prostatitis means “inflammation of the prostate”, and is one of the most common reasons men visit the doctor in the western world. It is most common in men over the age of 30, and particularly in men over the age of 60. While prostatitis is treatable, diagnosis can be lengthy and not all treatments are successful. This is partly because the various causes of prostatitis are not fully understood.

There are three main types of prostatitis:

  • Acute prostatitis, which develops suddenly and may not be permanent
  • Non-bacterial prostatitis, which may develop suddenly or follow a slower or variable course. It is now more commonly called chronic male pelvic pain syndrome because it cannot be proved to be “non-bacterial”, though a bacterial cause cannot be identified.
  • Chronic (bacterial) prostatitis, which develops gradually and may only have subtle symptoms, though it often continues for a prolonged period.

A fourth type of prostatitis – asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis – which has no symptoms at all but results in an inflamed prostate, is sometimes mentioned. It has been discovered when biopsies are conducted on the prostate to rule out cancer, and no cancer is found. This is an histological and not a clinical diagnosis. Prostatitis is often reported on the histological analysis of TURP specimens when the prostate resection was performed for symptoms of BPH. If the patient is asymptomatic this histological finding does not warrant any treatment.

Read more:
Prevalence of prostate cancer
Are you at risk for prostate cancer?

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