Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook
Search NetWellness

Prostate Cancer

Prostate Changes That Are NOT Cancer

Prostatitis

Prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that may result from a bacterial infection. It affects at least half of all men at some time during their lives. Having this condition does not increase your risk of any other prostate disease.

Symptoms of prostatitis

Several tests, such as DRE and a urine test, can be done to see if you have prostatitis. Correct diagnosis of your exact type of prostatitis is key to getting the best treatment. Even if you have no symptoms you should follow your doctor's advice to complete treatment.

Types of prostatitis and treatments:

Enlarged Prostate (BPH)

BPH stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Benign means "not cancer," and hyperplasia means abnormal cell growth. The result is that the prostate becomes enlarged. BPH is not linked to cancer and does not increase your risk of getting prostate cancer—yet the symptoms for BPH and prostate cancer can be similar.

Urine flow in a normal and enlarged prostate. In diagram on the left, urine flows freely. On the right, urine flow is affected because the enlarged prostate is pressing on the bladder and urethra.

Symptoms of BPH

At its worst, BPH can lead to: a weak bladder, backflow of urine causing bladder or kidney infections, complete block in the flow of urine and kidney failure.

The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut when a man is in his 20s. By the time he is 40, it may have grown slightly larger, to the size of an apricot. By age 60, it may be the size of a lemon. The enlarged prostate can press against the bladder and the urethra. This can slow down or block urine flow. Some men might find it hard to start a urine stream, even though they feel the need to go. Once the urine stream has started, it may be hard to stop. Other men may feel like they need to pass urine all the time, or they are awakened during sleep with the sudden need to pass urine. Early BPH symptoms take many years to turn into bothersome problems. These early symptoms are a cue to see your doctor.

Treatments for BPH

Some men with BPH eventually find their symptoms to be bothersome enough to need treatment. BPH cannot be cured, but drugs or surgery can often relieve its symptoms. Talk with your doctor about the best choice for you. Your symptoms may change over time, so be sure to tell your doctor about any new changes.

Watchful waiting

Men with mild symptoms of BPH who do not find them bothersome often choose this approach. Watchful waiting means getting annual checkups. Treatment is started only if symptoms become too much of a problem.

If you choose watchful waiting, these simple steps may help lessen your symptoms:

Some medications can make BPH symptoms worse, so talk with your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking such as:

Drug Therapy

Many American men with mild to moderate BPH symptoms have chosen prescription drugs over surgery since the early 1990s. Two main types of drugs are used. One type relaxes muscles near the prostate, and the other type shrinks the prostate gland. Some evidence shows that taking both drugs together may work best to keep BPH symptoms from getting worse.

Taking these drugs can help increase urine flow and reduce your symptoms. You must continue to take these drugs to prevent symptoms from coming back. 5-alpha reductase inhibitors can cause the following side effects in a small percentage of men including: decreased interest in sex, trouble getting or keeping an erection, and smaller amount of semen with ejaculation.

It's important to note that taking these drugs may lower your PSA test number. There is also evidence that these drugs lower the risk of getting prostate cancer, but whether they can help lower the risk of dying from prostate cancer is still unclear.

Surgery

The number of prostate surgeries has gone down over the years. But operations for BPH are still among the most common surgeries for American men. Surgery is used when symptoms are severe or drug therapy has not worked well. Be sure to discuss options with your doctor and ask about the potential short- and long-term benefits and risks with each procedure.

Types of surgery for BPH include:

Adapted from the National Cancer Institute's Prostate Cancer Topic: (http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/prostate/understanding-prostate-changes)

For more information:

Go to the Prostate Cancer health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Mar 10, 2015