Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. What is it and what do I look out for?

Are you a man over the age of 50 who is having difficulties with peeing. You may have Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), an enlargement of the prostate common among men over the age of 50. While BPH might seem like a scary diagnosis, this blog post will explain all about BPH: what exactly it is and its causes, as well as symptoms to look out for and tests available should you require medical attention. By the end of this post, you’ll know everything there is to know about benign prostatic hyperplasia!

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is a pathology commonly found in older men that typically involves the growth of both stromal and epithelial cells of the prostate. The proliferative process originates in the transition zone and the peri-urethral glands. It is rarely identified in men younger than 40 years. The incidence of BPH is age-dependent, with the proliferative process being present in approximately 70% and 90% of men in their seventh and ninth decades of life, respectively. Androgens (male hormones) play a role in the prostate growth.  The enlargement of the prostate causes many alterations that can lead to lower urinary tract symptoms, such as difficulty urinating or decreased flow.

Common Symptoms of BPH

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate, which is a normal occurrence that men experience as they age. Common symptoms of this condition include difficulty urinating, urgency (rush to urinate), frequency (passing urine too often), nocturia (waking at night to pass urine) urinary retention (unable to pass urine) and leaked urine. PSA and MRI scans can be helpful tools in discerning BPH from other potential causes such as cancer.

How is BPH Detected and Diagnosed

When assessing patients with symptoms of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), a physician begins by conducting a comprehensive physical examination and medical history. The International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) questionnaire is also typically administered, which measures the severity of the patient’s urinary symptoms. Additional tests may include urinalysis, flow studies, post void residuals, and prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels. Ultrasound or MRI imaging can be used to assess the size of the prostate.

Difference between BPH and Prostate Cancer

Benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer can be quite difficult to differentiate from each other based on symptoms alone. It’s important to note that prostate cancer often mimics the signs and symptoms of BPH in their earliest stages, which include frequent urination, difficulty starting or stopping the flow of urine, weak urinary stream and a feeling like you haven’t completely emptied your bladder. Fortunately, prostate specific antigen (PSA) tests and the increasing use of MRI prostate can help medical professionals differentiate between prostate cancer and BPH. An ultrasound is usually used to check the size of a prostate gland as enlarged prostate glands are commonly associated with BPH; however, an MRI may be necessary when a patient exhibits similar symptoms to both BPH and prostate cancer while having a typical-sized prostate.

The Size of the Prostate and its Significance to Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

The size of the prostate plays an integral role in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). In regards to size, an enlarged prostate poses more of a risk for developing BPH than a normal-sized one. Through the use of ultrasound and MRI tests, physicians are able to diagnose different sizes and identify mild or advanced levels of BPH associated with them. As such, size serves as a great indicator that allows medical professionals to accurately determine appropriate care paths and prevent the possibility of issues progressing into something more serious than BPH.

In conclusion, Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is one of the most common conditions found in men over 50 years old. It is characterized by an enlarged prostate and can have a variety of uncomfortable symptoms associated with it. BPH can be detected through careful medical examination and tests such as PSA and MRI, where differences between it and prostate cancer are easier to discern. The size of the prostate affects prognosis, but with proper treatment, many individuals can experience relief from difficult urinary symptoms. Above all, when in doubt, seek a professional opinion.  Do not ignore troubling or persistent urinary symptoms as early treatment may help prevent worsening of long-term effects from BPH.

Dr. Khalid Enver

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