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A prostate is a biological feature that all men share, but knowledge about the gland and the function it performs in the body is relatively limited. As research conducted by Prostate Cancer UK revealed, 70 per cent of men aged 45 and over know nothing about the gland or the symptoms which could indicate they have developed a problem with their prostate.

This is why John Neate, a representative of the organisation, says that it's important the nation's male population is educated about the purpose of the prostate and understand any health issues they may experience that are related to the gland.

Quoted in the NHS Live Well section, Mr Neate explains the benefits that would result if more men had a stronger knowledge of the prostate's function. "We certainly don't want men to panic about getting prostate cancer, but we do want far more to be aware of their risk of this disease and their health in general," he said.

Here we'll take a quick look at a few facts about the gland and how to keep a lookout for the possible signs of cancer.

What is the prostate?

The gland itself can only be found in men, and is located just below the bladder. The purpose of the prostate is to produce some of the fluid in semen, and it plays a vital role in the quality of a man's sex life. Fluid produced by the prostate acts to nourish and protect sperm during sexual intercourse, and also forms the majority of ejaculate volume.

What happens to the prostate as you get older?

Just like going bald is part of the natural ageing process in men, so too is an enlargement of the prostate although this won't affect every man. For two-thirds of men over 50 there is no issue with having an enlarged prostate, although in some instances as it swells it can press on the tube which carries urine from the bladder. This can cause a range of urinary problems and result in a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Prostatitis is another issue related to having an enlarged prostate gland, and can potentially make urination a painful experience. Yet while these are relatively insignificant, the real problem occurs when a cell in the gland begins to multiply out of control - this is when cancer can develop. You must look out for symptoms of prostate problems and consult your medical expert immediately. There are many solutions for prostate problems available on the market that can help maintain prostate health and improve your quality of life.

How common is prostate cancer?

The disease is the most common cancer among men who live in the UK, affecting more than 30,000 men every year. However, the threat that it poses to an individual's health can vary greatly, and in 80 per cent of cases the condition will be slow-growing and may stay undiagnosed as it never causes any symptoms or health issues.

In the other 20 per cent of instances, the prostate cancer cells will be aggressive and grow quickly - potentially spreading to other parts of the body such as the bones. Urgent treatment is only required in the 20 per cent of cases where the cancer is fast-growing, but keeping an eye out for symptoms of prostate cancer such as difficulty urinating or pain during sex can be an effective way of detecting the disease early.