Priya Menon Priya Menon Scientific Media Editor at Curetalk

Does Enlarged Prostate lead to or cause Prostate Cancer?

Enlarged prostate and cancer

Enalrged prostate does not necessarily lead to prostate cancer.

An enlarged prostate by itself, as found in a patient with Benign Hyperplasia of Prostate (BPH), is not indicative of or a risk factor for developing prostate cancer. Nevertheless, a case of enlarged prostate has to be examined by the physician to rule out possibilities of prostate cancer, as the prostate may be enlarged in the case of Prostate Cancer as well.

What is Enlarged Prostate?

Prostate is a chestnut sized organ, lying underneath bladder surrounding a part or urethra. The main function of prostate is making fluid that constitutes the semen. In men, with age, prostate grows in size and in every one out of 5 men, the growth is more than normal. Medically, enlarged prostate is also known as BPH or benign prostatic hyperplasia. The term ‘benign’ is indicative of the non-cancerous nature of condition. Enlarged prostate causes urinary obstruction. Size of prostate does not in any way determine the severity of symptoms or potential for condition progressing into a cancerous stage.

Prostate Cancer and BPH Connection

The similarities between BPH and prostate cancer are mainly the symptoms.

BPH Prostate Cancer
Prevalence Men after age of 40 years. It is the most common cause of urinary tract obstruction. The most common cancer affecting male population.
Cause Increased testosterone levels. Unregulated growth of cancerous cells in prostate.
Physical Examination Enlarged prostate on digital rectal examination. Firm and nodular enlarged prostate on digital rectal examination.
Part of prostate effected Central portion of prostate. Lateral lobes of prostate usually. But other parts can also be affected.
Most common symptoms Increased frequency of urination, dribbling, and frequent urination at night. Increased frequency of urination, dribbling, and frequent urination at night.
Lab values High PSA values. High PSA and alkaline phosphatase.
Spreading BPH does not spread to other parts of the body. Spreads to areas around prostate and can spread to bones.
Treatment Based on symptoms, treatments available include drugs, surgery, minimally invasive procedures. Depending on aggressiveness of cancer, available treatments include surgery, hormonal therapy, and radiation therapy.

Prostate Cancer Risk

Prostate cancer risk

Men over 50 years are more prone to prostate cancer. Pic source: American Cancer Society, http://southasia.abbottdiagnostics.com/Your_Health/Cancer-Oncology/Prostate.cfm

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society recommend annual screening for prostate cancer through rectal examinations for men over the age of 40. As i mentioned earlier, a man diagnosed with BPH or presenting symptoms of enlarged prostate does not necessarily have cancer. Nevertheless, routine biopsies of tissues removed after BPH surgery, suggest that one in every 10 cases show presence of cancer cells. These cells however, are not malignant (nonaggressive) and hence do not progress to prostate cancer or require treatment.

References

  1. Prostate Enlargement
  2. Prostate Cancer
  3. BPH Symptoms

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