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Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome in elderly men: toward better understanding and treatment.

Chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CP/CPPS) is the most common of the prostatitis syndromes. It is characterised by pelvic pain, with or without voiding symptoms. CP/CPPS accounts for 2 million office visits in the US alone. Recent epidemiological studies have shown that CP/CPPS can affect men at any age, including those in their 80s. The aetiology is unknown but proposals include infectious, autoimmune, neurologic and psychiatric causes. Men with CP/CPPS are much more likely to have had a past medical history of cardiovascular, neurologic, psychiatric or infectious disease (particularly sinusitis) as compared with asymptomatic individuals. Although leucocytes are commonly found in the prostatic fluid of these men, they do not correlate with the symptoms. The clinical evaluation now includes a validated, self administered symptom score, the National Institutes of Health Chronic Prostatitis Symptom Index (NIH-CPSI), which was designed as an outcome measure for treatment trials. This can aid in diagnosis and follow-up of patients' response to therapy. Treatment for CP/CPPS is empiric and limited by a lack of randomised, placebo-controlled clinical trials. Antimicrobials are commonly used to treat the symptoms of CP/CPPS. However, the finding that asymptomatic men have equal or greater numbers of bacteria which localise to the prostatic fluid, compared with men with CP/CPPS, has raised doubts about the contribution of infection to the symptoms. Other commonly used drugs include alpha-adrenoceptor antagonists, anti-inflammatory drugs, tricyclic antidepressants and anticholinergic agents. The adverse effects of these medications are a concern in older men with CP/CPPS. Other therapies available include minimally invasive procedures such as microwave thermotherapy and transurethral needle ablation, and now neuromodulation devices.Although much progress has been made, particularly in the last 7 years, considerable work still remains to be done to determine the aetiology and pathogenesis of CP/CPPS, and to develop mechanism based therapy that is shown to be effective in controlled trials.

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