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What is benign prostatic hyperplasia?

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD

Benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH is also known simply as prostate enlargement. It is a common condition in men of older age, and occurs to some degree in 60% of men aged 60 years or older suffer from this condition.

Having prostate enlargement does not mean that the man is at risk of prostate cancer. Men with BPH are at no greater risk for prostate cancer than men without the condition.

The condition does not usually pose any particular problem to a man’s health. However, urinary symptoms may arise and these can range from mild and slightly uncomfortable to bothersome symptoms that severely impact on day-to-day living and quality of life. As the prostate gland grows, it may begin to press against the urethra and obstruct urinary flow. In addition, the enlarged gland can also place pressure on the bladder and the rectum.

Due to this pathology, several bothersome urinary symptoms that may arise include:

  • An urge to urinate but weak flow and stream of urine.
  • Difficulty in starting urination and also stopping once it has started
  • A frequent urge to urinate, especially at night
  • A fsensation that the bladder is not empty despite urination  

Treatment usually involves the administration of drugs that shrink the prostate followed by a procedure called transurethral resection of the prostate or TURP. TURP is a minimally invasive procedure for the removal of excess prostate tissue. However, in mild BPH, cases no treatment may be required.

Reviewed by , BSc

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Last Updated: Jan 19, 2014

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