The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder. Its job is to produce semen, the fluid that transports sperm. But the prostate also houses part of the tube that carries urine out of the bladder (the tube runs right through it). That's why the classic sign of an enlarged prostate is difficulty urinating. This condition can be very uncomfortable and requires treatment, but it is not life threatening.
Prostate cancer, on the other hand, produces no symptoms and is usually slow growing. But the likelihood of cure is greatest when the disease is diagnosed early, so early detection is key. That means that starting at age 50, all men should get annual screening by a physician. The screening consists of a blood test called a PSA (prostate specific antigen), which may suggest developing prostate cancer, and a digital rectal examination that can detect lumps in the prostate gland.
Don't take the screening lightly. Almost 200,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in the US this year alone. And more than 31,000 men will die of the disease.