Fast facts on benign prostatic hyperplasia
Most men are familiar with the term benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH. BPH is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that may cause problems of restricted urine flow from the bladder. As part of the male reproductive system, the prostate gland is about the size and shape of a walnut, situated below the urinary bladder. Its primary function is to generate fluid for semen.
For any man who is not familiar with BPH, here are some additional fast facts on what this condition is:
· An estimated 50% of men have histologic evidence of BPH by age 50 and 75% of men by age 80; in 40-50% of these men, BPH becomes clinically significant.
· BPH is one of the ten most common and costly diseases in men older than 50 years of age in the United States.
· BPH rarely causes symptoms before the age of 40.
· Men who are more likely to develop BPH are those who have the following risk factors – hormonal changes, lack of physical activity, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, increasing age, recurring erectile dysfunction, and family history of this condition.
· African American men are at the highest risk for BPH and Asian men have the least risk.
· In BPH, the prostate gland enlarges to such an extent that it blocks the urethra. This makes it difficult to empty the bladder completely leading to retention of some amount of urine.
· Some of the common symptoms associated with BPH include difficulty initiating urination, strong increased need to urinate, particularly at night, frequent dribbling after urination, and a sensation that the bladder is not completely emptied even after urination.
· BPH is not a life-threatening condition but the discomfort and inconvenience can drastically reduce a man’s quality of life if treatment is not sought out.
· Ignoring an enlarged prostate can lead to more serious conditions such as damage to the bladder, kidneys, occurrence of urinary tract infections, or bladder or kidney stones.
· Diagnosing BPH before an advanced stage can lower the risk of developing complications. A delay in treatment could lead to permanent bladder damage.
· All men over the age of 50 should have their prostate checked annually even if they have no symptoms. The most common way of checking the prostate is by a digital rectal exam.
· Starting at age 40, all men should have a baseline prostate specific antigen (PSA) test which can help determine if a man’s prostate is enlarging.
· Treatment for BPH depends on symptoms and if the prostate is continuing to enlarge.
· If a man has no symptoms or they are very mild, and his BPH is stable, treatment may not be required and they may be monitored by active surveillance.
· For men with BPH and are symptomatic, there are several options to choose from:
· Medications to control symptoms such as Avodart, Cardura, Uroxatral, Proscar, Cialis, and Flomax.
· Surgery can be an option such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). This surgery is considered to be the optimum treatment for BPH as it reduces symptoms in 80-90% of patients. Another surgery option is transurethral needle ablation (TUNA). This procedure involves passing a scope into the urethra placing needles into the prostate gland which emit radio waves to heat and destroy excess prostate tissue blocking urine flow.
· Any man with BPH needs to seek help from his doctor to determine which treatment option is right for him.