Prostate health is a topic that often takes a backseat in men’s discussions about well-being. Roughly 13% of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime, only 2-3% will die from it. BPH, or enlarged prostate, will affect about 50% of men between the ages of 51 and 60, and that number jumps to 70% among men aged 60 to 69 and around 80% of men over 70 years of age. At KCUC, we routinely diagnose both conditions in our patients. Understanding the relationship between an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer is crucial for maintaining overall health.
Understanding Enlarged Prostate
Enlarged prostate, also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), is a common condition among aging men. The prostate, a walnut-sized gland that surrounds the urethra, tends to enlarge naturally with age. While the exact cause of BPH is not fully understood, hormonal changes and genetic factors are believed to contribute to its development.
Causes of Enlarged Prostate
The actual cause of prostate enlargement is unknown. Factors linked to aging and changes in the cells of the testicles may have a role in the growth of the gland, as well as testosterone levels. These factors may play a role:
- Age: The risk of an enlarged prostate increases with age, with most men experiencing some degree of prostate enlargement as they grow older.
- Hormonal Changes: Changes in hormone levels, particularly an increase in dihydrotestosterone (DHT), play a role in the development of an enlarged prostate.
- Family History: Men with a family history of BPH may be more prone to developing an enlarged prostate.
Symptoms of Enlarged Prostate
Recognizing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate is essential for seeking timely medical attention. Common symptoms include:
- Frequent Urination: Increased frequency of urination, especially during the night.
- Weak Urine Stream: Difficulty initiating or maintaining a strong urine stream.
- Urinary Urgency: Sudden and strong urges to urinate.
- Incomplete Emptying: A feeling that the bladder is not fully emptied after urination.
Does an Enlarged Prostate Increase the Risk of Prostate Cancer?
It’s essential to clarify that having an enlarged prostate does not directly increase the risk of prostate cancer. However, both conditions share some common risk factors, such as age and family history. Additionally, African American men are 1.7 times more likely to be diagnosed with (and 2.1 times more likely to die from) prostate cancer than white men. Because the symptoms of an enlarged prostate can sometimes mask the early signs of prostate cancer, regular check-ups and screenings are critical for early detection of prostate cancer.
The Importance of Prostate Exams
Regular prostate exams, including digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests, are crucial for early detection of prostate cancer. While an enlarged prostate itself may not lead to cancer, these screenings can help identify any abnormal changes in the prostate that may warrant further investigation.
Understanding the relationship between an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer is vital for men’s health. While an enlarged prostate does not directly increase the risk of cancer, both conditions share common risk factors. Recognizing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate and prioritizing regular prostate exams are key steps in maintaining prostate health and catching potential issues early on. Don’t wait for symptoms to worsen – consult with your healthcare provider and make proactive choices to safeguard your well-being.
Early Detection Saves Lives
Because over 90% of prostate cancer cases are discovered in the early stages, (before it has spread or when it has only spread to limited areas in the pelvic regions) the tumors are more likely to respond to treatment. Prostate cancer has one of the highest curability rates of all types of cancer. In the U.S., the 5-year survival rate with prostate cancer is close to 98%. But it must be caught in the early stages for the best chance of survival.
How Often Should You Get a Prostate Exam?
It’s essential for men to have their initial prostate exam to establish a baseline for future comparisons. At KCUC, we recommend regular prostate cancer screening in men starting at age 40-55, depending on personal risk factors, and continuing every 1-2 years until at least age 70-75 depending on individual overall health and life expectancy. African American men and men with a family history of prostate cancer should start screening at age 40. Prostate cancer screening should consist of a PSA blood test and prostate exam.
KCUC Treats the Most Prostate Cancer Patients in KC
At KCUC Urology and Oncology, we treat more prostate cancer patients than anyone else in the KC area, and we also offer treatments for enlarged prostate. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with BPH, learn about the best and latest treatments for enlarged prostate. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, learn about cutting-edge prostate cancer treatment options. Enlarged prostate and prostate cancer – we help hundreds of patients with both conditions.
If you are a man over 40 years old and you don’t know your PSA number, make an appointment to have a prostate screening and PSA test. You can either discuss it with your primary care physician or go directly to a urologist. Contact one of the over 30 KCUC Urology and Oncology locations throughout Kansas and Missouri to schedule an appointment. At KCUC, you see the best in KC.