It’s been said, “All men will have an enlarged prostate if they live long enough.” Also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, this condition is not cancer and doesn’t raise your risk of prostate cancer, but it can be quite uncomfortable. Fortunately, help is available.
“The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra (the tube urine passes through) between the bladder and the penis,” says Lawrence Baum, M.D., board-certified urologist on staff at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “As men age, the prostate gland slowly grows bigger and puts pressure on the urethra, which may slow urine flow.” BPH rarely causes symptoms in men younger than 40, but about 50% of men in their 60s and most men in their 70s and 80s have some symptoms.
“Severe BPH can cause serious problems over time, including urinary tract infections, bladder or kidney damage, bladder stones and incontinence,” says John Boon, M.D., urologist on staff at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “An enlarged prostate can also cause sudden and complete bladder blockage.” If you are unable to urinate at all, this is an emergency and not a normal symptom of BPH. Contact your health care provider.
Finding BPH early lowers your risk of developing complications. Symptoms of BPH include:
• Frequent need to urinate
• Difficulty starting and stopping urine flow
• Decreased size and strength of urine stream
• Painful urination or bloody urine(these may indicate infection)
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of BPH, your doctor will likely perform a digital rectal exam to determine your prostate’s size and shape. Your doctor may also check your urine for infection and take a blood sample. “Although BPH isn’t caused by prostate cancer, a rising prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level is often an indication of BPH,” Dr. Boon says. “We may also order an ultrasound exam or biopsy of the prostate to help make the diagnosis.”
“If we determine that you have BPH, we may suggest a wait-and-see approach if you have mild symptoms,” says Antoine Makhlouf, M.D., board-certified urologist on staff at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. “The most common symptoms that lead to treatment include interrupted sleep because of needing to urinate at night and extreme urgency to urinate.”
“Or antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up any infection before treating the BPH itself,” Dr. Baum adds. Drug treatments are available for BPH, including hormone blockers that shrink the prostate and alpha-blockers that relax muscle cells in the bladder neck, making the flow of urine easier. “Surgery can shrink or remove prostate tissue for severe, persistent symptoms,” Dr. Makhlouf says.
Free prostate cancer screenings will be held at Methodist Sugar Land Hospital Cancer Center with easy access off Town Center Blvd., 16675 Southwest Freeway, September 10 & September 20, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Limited appointments available. Call 281-274-7500 to schedule your screening. Prostate-specific antigen blood tests and digital rectal exams (DRE) will be given.
To make an appointment with a urologist in your area, please call our physician referral line at 281-274-7500.