Good News – Enlarged Prostate Caused by BPH is Not Cancerous

Enlarged prostate or also known as BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) refers to microscopic changes in the prostate. Benign indicates that the growth is not cancer, hyperplasia means overgrowth of cells. Still no matter how much BPH a man develops, the abnormal overgrowth remains within the gland. Because it grows in close quarters, pressing inward on the urethra, BPH often causes bothersome urinary symptoms, while prostate cancer, which can spread outward to other organs, usually causes no symptoms at all. BPH does not become cancer or predict that a man will develop a malignancy.

It is not sure fully why BPH develops, but hormones are a strong suspect. All males have a tiny supply of the female hormone, estrogen. As men age, testosterone, the male hormone, naturally declines, while the amount of estrogen increases slightly. This change in hormonal balance may trigger benign overgrowth in the prostate, and studies are under way to test this hypothesis. Why only the transition zone of the prostate enlarges so much with age remains a medical mystery.

BPH is a disease of aging males, and every normal aging man is at risk. The condition only develops in the presence of circulating male hormones. Men castrated before puberty do not develop BPH. Neither do men with a hereditary enzyme deficiency that affects androgen metabolism. Researchers have explored a host of possible causes of BPH, including level of sexual activity, general health, race, diet, exercise, exposure to toxins, and presence of other diseases.

A non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate can go on for years without causing any problems. Sometimes, however, it can cause serious, even life-threatening situations by causing urine to backup and kidney damage. More often, the prostate enlargement results in irritating but minor difficulties, such as, difficult or slow urination, having to go to the bathroom very frequently and feeling the need to go almost all the time, even when there is not much urine in the bladder.

The solution to these unpleasant symptoms is to remove some of the enlarged prostate gland, also known as TURF, so that urine can flow more freely. This procedure does not require any incision, since the surgeon inserts these instruments through the end of the penis. Tolerance for BPH symptoms is highly individual; one man might find leaking even a few drops unbearable, while another may consider this acceptable or even expected fact of life.

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