Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is also called benign prostatic hypertrophy. It’s when the prostate gland becomes very large and may cause problems passing urine. BPH is not cancer, and is a common part of aging.
The prostate gland is found only in males. It’s located in front of the rectum and below the bladder. It wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate's job is to make some of the fluid that protects and nourishes sperm cells in semen. This makes the semen more liquid.
BPH can raise PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels. PSA is made by the prostate and can be measured with a blood test. An increased PSA level does not mean you have cancer, but the higher the PSA level, the higher the chance of having cancer.
Some of the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are the same, but BPH is not cancer and does not develop into prostate cancer.
The cause of BPH is not known. The prostate goes through 2 main periods of growth. In early puberty, it doubles in size. Then, around age 25, the prostate starts to grow again and continues to grow throughout most of a man's life.
The continuing growth of the prostate may not cause problems until much later in life, when the second period of growth may result in BPH. It is a common problem for men starting in their 60s, and it is more likely for men in their 70s and 80s to have some symptoms of BPH.
As the prostate grows, it presses against the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body. This interferes with urination. At the same time, the bladder wall becomes thicker and irritated, and begins to contract, even when it contains only small amounts of urine. This can cause more frequent urination. These changes cause the bladder muscle to weaken. It may not empty fully and leave some urine behind. This leads to symptoms.
The following are the most common symptoms of BPH:
These problems may lead to one or more of the following if BPH is not treated:
The symptoms of BPH may look like other conditions or medical problems. Always talk with a healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
Diagnosing benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in its earlier stages can lower the risk of complications. Your healthcare provider will review your medical history and do a physical exam. Other tests may include:
With time, BPH symptoms usually need some kind of treatment. When the prostate is just mildly enlarged, treatment may not be needed. In fact, research has shown that, in some mild cases, some of the symptoms of BPH get better without treatment. The need to start treatment will be decided by your healthcare provider after careful evaluation of your symptoms. Regular check-ups are important, and they’re needed to watch for developing problems.
Treatment for BPH may include:
To remove only the enlarged tissue that is pressing against the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body), with the rest of the inside prostate left intact. Types of surgery often include:
These may include:
Management of BPH may include:
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