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Chapter: Medical Physiology: Reproductive and Hormonal Functions of the Male (and Function of the Pineal Gland)

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Prostate Gland and Its Abnormalities

The prostate gland remains relatively small throughout childhood and begins to grow at puberty under the stimulus of testosterone.

Prostate Gland and Its Abnormalities

The prostate gland remains relatively small throughout childhood and begins to grow at puberty under the stimulus of testosterone. This gland reaches an almost stationary size by the age of 20 years and remains at this size up to the age of about 50 years. At that time, in some men it begins to involute, along with decreased production of testosterone by the testes.

A benign prostatic fibroadenoma frequently develops in the prostate in many older men and can cause urinary obstruction. This hypertrophy is caused not by testos-terone but instead by abnormal overgrowth of prostate tissue itself.

Cancer of the prostate gland is a different problem and is a common cause of death, accounting for about 2 to 3 per cent of all male deaths. Once cancer of the prostate gland does occur, the cancerous cells are usually stimulated to more rapid growth by testosterone and are inhibited by removal of both testes so that testosterone cannot be formed. Prostatic cancer usually can be inhibited by administration of estrogens. Even some patients who have prostatic cancer that has already metastasized to almost all the bones of the body can be successfully treated for a few months to years by removal of the testes, by estrogen therapy, or by both; after this therapy the metastases usually diminish in size and the bones partially heal. This treatment does not stop the cancer but does slow it and sometimes greatly diminishes the severe bone pain.


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