The similarities and differences between prostate cancer and BPH (benign prostatic hyperlasia) are commonly misunderstood. The two diseases both start in the prostate and can cause identical symptoms, but the similarities basically end there.
So how do these two common male conditions compare:
- Prevalence - Most common male cancer.
- Cause – Not entirely understood, but due to unregulated growth of prostate cancer cells.
- Physical Examination – Nodular (bumpy), firm, enlarged prostate on digital rectal examination.
- Elevated Lab Values – PSA and alkaline phosphatase
- Part of the Prostate Effected – Usually the lateral lobes of the prostate (the sides of the prostate), but can be anywhere in the prostate.
- Most Common Initial Symptoms – Urinary symptoms such as frequency of urination, hesitancy, dribbling, and frequent nighttime urination.
- Where It Spreads – Most commonly to the areas around the prostate within the pelvis, but also frequently to the bones.
- Treatment – Depending on the aggressiveness of the cancer and the presence of other medical problems, treatment can range from close monitoring to surgery to radiation therapy to hormonal therapy to a number of other less common options.
- Prevalence – Very common after age 40 and the most common cause of male urinary tract obstruction.
- Cause – Increased levels of testosterone that occur normally with increasing age.
- Physical Examination – Enlarged, “boggy” prostate on digital rectal examination.
- Elevated Lab Values – PSA
- Part of the Prostate Effected – Usually the central portion of the prostate.
- Most Common Initial Symptoms - Urinary symptoms such as frequency of urination, hesitancy, dribbling, and frequent nighttime urination.
- Where It Spreads – BPH cannot spread to other areas of the body.
- Treatment – Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatment can range from nothing, to medication to shrink the prostate, to surgery to remove the central part of the prostate to allow better flow of urine.
Kumar: Robbins and Cotran: Pathologic Basis of Disease, 7th ed. 2005.