by: Ronaldo V. Mendoza, MD, MBA-H - Medical
Enlargement of the prostate is a very common illness affecting men above 50 years old. Two of the main risk factors for BPH are advancing age and family history of the disease. The most common annoying symptom is difficulty of urination. As the prostate gland enlarges, it impedes the flow of urine from the urinary bladder resulting to increase frequency of urination and urinary tract infection. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is a normal part of the aging process in men, caused by changes in hormone balance and in cell growth.
Medical and surgical treatment options are available and it is best to consult your attending physician. Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) is done to determine prostate abnormalities. The most important thing to do after diagnosing an enlarged prostate is to do a confirmatory test to rule out Prostate Cancer. Prostate Specific Antigen or PSA is measured by a simple blood test. The typical test for diagnosis and risk group determination is the "total PSA" which is simply a measure of all the PSA. Since the amount of PSA in the blood is very low, detection of it requires a very sensitive technology.
The American Cancer Society and American Urologic Association still recommend some form of prostate cancer screening, although patients should discuss with their doctors the merits and drawbacks to screening. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher.
For patients with elevated PSA, tissue diagnosis is necessary with a Fine Needle Biopsy to rule out malignancy.
Prostate enlargement and erectile dysfunction (ED) are separate problems. Both increase with age, but one causes problems in the bathroom and the other in the bedroom. However, the two are somewhat linked. Certain treatments that relieve BPH can cause ED and other sexual side effects. On the other hand, treating ED can improve enlarged prostate symptoms.
At the end of the day, it is best to consult your trusted attending physician if you have symptoms of BPH. Early diagnosis is essential in improving the survival rate in case the enlargement is due to a malignancy. Your doctor may also be able to recommend lifestyle changes and exercises that can help improve your condition.