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HOUSE CALL: Enlarged prostate gland: what are the risks?

 


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By Dr. Christopher Vulin STLtoday.com | Posted: Monday, September 5, 2011 7:15 am

Prostate gland enlargement is a common condition men develop as they get older. It's also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatic hypertrophy.

If untreated, prostate gland enlargement can block the flow of urine out of the bladder and can lead to bladder and kidney problems, including urinary tract infections, bladder stones, bloody urine and even kidney failure.

BPH can cause a number of urinary symptoms, which can become bothersome. These include slowing of urine stream, nighttime urinating, straining to urinate, incontinence and feeling of incomplete bladder emptying.

As men age, the prostate gland grows and, as a result, narrows the channel that the bladder has to squeeze urine through in order to empty itself. This leads to the bladder becoming thicker and stronger, which in turn causes the bladder to become more sensitive. It's the increased sensitivity that causes the frequency, urgency and frequent voiding trips at night, called nocturia.

BPH rarely causes symptoms before age 40, however, by the time men reach their 60s, half will experience bothersome symptoms.  Ninety percent of men older than age 70 are likely to have BPH symptoms.

There are multiple effective treatments for prostate enlargement, including medications, lifestyle and behavioral changes, and possibly surgery.

Why should men care so much about their prostate? One in four men with BPH symptoms (more than 350,000 men each year in the U.S.) will require some sort of medical intervention. Many will require more than one treatment in order to relieve the urinary obstruction that BPH causes.


Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting one in six men. Each year, roughly 190,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 28,000 die from it. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men after lung cancer.

That's why, it's very important for men to be proactive regarding their prostate health. This includes talking to your physician about any voiding symptoms, as well as undergoing routine screening for prostate cancer and BPH (this may include an annual digital rectal exam, urinalysis and PSA testing).

Dr. Christopher Vulin, board-certified urologist, is on staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center. For referral to a physician on-staff at Missouri Baptist Medical Center, call 314-996-LIFE.

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