Prostate Cancer: Enlarged Prostate
Benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH for short), is the most common prostate problem in men. Almost all men will develop some enlargement of the prostate as they age.
When Does Prostate Enlargement Happen?
Overall, the number of men with BPH increases progressively with age. By age 60, 50% of men will have some signs of BPH. By age 85, 90% of men will have signs of the condition. About one third of these men will develop symptoms that require treatment.
Does BPH Increase Your Risk of Developing Prostate Cancer?
Based on research to date, the answer is no. However, BPH and prostate cancer have similar symptoms, and a man who has BPH may have undetected cancer at the same time.
To help detect prostate cancer in its early stages, the American Cancer Society advises annual screening starting at age 50 in men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy. They also say that for men who are at high risk, such as African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, screening should begin at about age 45. Men at an even higher risk, such as having several relatives with a history of prostate cancer at an early age, could begin testing at age 40.
The American Urological Association recommends against routine screening in men between ages 45 and 54, and recommends that men ages 55 to 69 should weigh the risks and benefits of screening and treatment. Those men, the AUA recommends, should be screened every two years rather than annually. Tests used to screen for prostate cancer include a blood test for a substance called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and the digital rectal exam (DRE). The AUA does not recommend PSA screening in men over age 70 or any man with less than a 10-15-year life expectancy.
What Are the Symptoms of BPH?
Since the prostate gland surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body, it is easy to see that enlargement of the prostate can lead to blockage of the tube. You may develop:
- Slowness or dribbling of your urinary stream
- Hesitancy or difficulty starting to urinate
- Feeling of urgency or sudden need to urinate
- Need to get up at night to urinate
As symptoms progress, you may develop: