Benign prostatic hyperplasia BPH and prostate cancer are common conditions that can affect men as they age. While these conditions are distinct — BPH is noncancerous — they both cause similar symptoms and are often confused with one another.
Understanding the differences between Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer is important. Each has different treatments, and while BPH mostly causes poor quality of life due to its symptoms, prostate cancer is a more serious condition.
What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
BPH is a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland that occurs in many men as they age. The prostate gland is a small, walnut-sized gland located in the pelvic area below the bladder. It is responsible for producing a fluid that makes up a part of semen.
As men age, the prostate gland can begin to grow, which can cause problems with urination. BPH is not cancer, but it can cause similar symptoms to prostate cancer, including difficulty urinating, weak urine flow, frequent urination, and the need to urinate at night.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs in the prostate gland. It is the second most common type of cancer among men, after skin cancer. Prostate cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stages, which is why it is important for men to undergo regular screenings for the condition.
Symptoms of prostate cancer may include difficulty urinating, weak urine flow, and frequent urination. These symptoms may be similar to those of BPH, but it is important to seek medical evaluation if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
There are three main risk factors for Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, including:
- Age: Both BPH and prostate cancer are more common in older men.
- Family history: Men with a family history of BPH or prostate cancer may be at an increased risk of developing either condition.
- Diet: A diet high in red meat and saturated fats may increase the risk of both BPH and prostate cancer.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A doctor can diagnose Benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer through physical exams, blood tests, and imaging tests such as ultrasound or biopsy. Because both conditions can be severe if not caught and treated, it is important to undergo regular screenings to ensure an early diagnosis.
Treatment for BPH may include medication, lifestyle changes, or surgery. Medication options may include alpha-blockers, which relax the muscles in the prostate and allow for easier urination, or 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, which slow down the growth of the prostate gland. Lifestyle changes like reducing caffeine intake and drinking more fluids may also help manage BPH symptoms. Surgery may sometimes be necessary to remove part of the prostate gland.
Treatment for prostate cancer may include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or a combination of these treatments. The specific treatment plan will depend on the stage and grade of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health.
The Link Between BPH and Prostate Cancer
While BPH and prostate cancer are common conditions in men, BPH is not linked to prostate cancer. BPH doesn’t cause prostate cancer and it also doesn’t increase a man’s risk. Both conditions can have similar symptoms, so getting a diagnosis is an important step. If prostate cancer is the cause of your urinary symptoms, finding it early is critical in getting the best treatment outcomes.
If you are over the age of 50, it’s time for a regular prostate exam – schedule an appointment today!