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Enlarged Prostate

What Causes an Enlarged Prostate?

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Updated June 04, 2009

Enlarged prostate is a common problem among older men. Because urine travels in a small tube that runs through the prostate as it makes its way out of the body, urinary problems are the most common symptoms that men with an enlarged prostate experience.

There are a few important causes of enlarged prostate to be aware of.

Causes of Enlarged Prostate

  1. BPH - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

    BPH is a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate that is extremely common in older men. It is generally thought to be caused by years of exposure to male hormones like testosterone. BPH is such a common cause of an enlarged prostate that it is often simply referred to as "enlarged prostate."

    While BPH is benign and cannot spread to other parts of the body, it can cause problems. If the prostate enlarges enough, the flow of urine out of the body can be obstructed. If this obstruction is severe enough, it can result in kidney damage.

    Usually, medication can be given to reduce the prostate swelling so that urine may flow more freely. If medication does not work and the obstruction is severe enough, surgery may be required to relieve the obstruction.

  2. Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer can also result in an enlarged prostate. BPH is a much more common cause of an enlarged prostate, but, because the symptoms of prostate cancer and BPH can be identical, there is no way to safely determine which is causing a man's urinary symptoms.

    Prostate cancer can often be diagnosed early and treated successfully. Often, treating a man's prostate cancer results in significant improvement of his urinary symptoms because the prostate is either removed or decreased in size.

  3. Prostatitis

    Prostatitis results from any kind of inflammation or infection of the prostate. When the prostate is inflamed, it often swells temporarily and can cause obstruction of urine.

    Prostatitis due to infection can be treated with antibiotics and prostatitis due to most other reasons will typically disappear relatively quickly. As the prostatitis improves, the prostatic enlargement will also improve.

Source:

Kumar V, Abbas A, Fausto N. Robbins Pathologic Basis of Disease 7th Edition. 2004.

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