How common is benign prostate enlargement?

Benign (noncancerous) enlargement of the prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, is the most common prostate problem in men. Almost all men will develop some enlargement of the prostate as they age.

Who is affected by prostate enlargement?

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 half of these men will develop symptoms that need to be treated.

Does having benign prostatic hyperplasia increase your risk of developing prostate cancer?

Based on research to date, having BPH does not seem to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. 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 Urological Association and the American Cancer Society recommend a screening every year for men ages 50 to 70. They further recommend that men who are at high risk – such as African-American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer – begin screening at about age 40. Screening tests for prostate cancer include a blood test for a substance called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and the digital rectal exam (DRE).

What are the symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia?

Since the prostate gland surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine outside the body), it is easy to understand that enlargement of the prostate can lead to blockage of the tube. Therefore, you may develop:

  • Slowness or dribbling of your urinary stream.
  • Hesitancy or difficulty starting to urinate.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Feeling of urgency (sudden need to urinate).
  • Need to get up at night to urinate.

As symptoms progress, you may develop:

The enlargement of the prostate can lead to blockage of the urethra.

  • Bladder stones.
  • Bladder infection.
  • Blood in your urine.
  • Damage to your kidneys from back pressure caused by retaining large amounts of extra urine in the bladder.
  • Sudden blockage of the urinary tube, making urination impossible.
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