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The prostate gland is a perfectly functioning system unless a new kind of tissue, known as adenoma (benign tumor), arises from the normal prostate tissue, signaling the onset of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This nonmalignant but abnormal cell growth spreads inward as well as outward and enlarges the prostate gland, tightening around the urethra much like a clamp around a hose and thereby reducing the force and size of the urine stream. This problem may begin ten to twenty years before symptoms become apparent.
You may have BPH if you experience increased frequency of urination, a delay in being able to start the stream or stop, and a continuing dribble (or incomplete emptying) of the bladder. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is often referred to as "the curse of aging men." For those who have BPH, gone are the days of more youthful years, when boys participated in contests to demonstrate who had the most powerful flow. As we age, BPH can disrupt the harmony of our life with the constant pit stops required throughout the day and evening.
In addition to the common symptoms of BPH, there are other warning signs: blood or pus in the urine, painful ejaculation, and continuing pain in the lower back, hips, or thighs. It is important to realize that these symptoms may also signify a more serious condition than BPH. Sometimes an enlarged prostate indicates malignant tissue that can spread to other parts of the body.
Although BPH is not malignant and does not always develop into a cancerous condition, a man can have both BPH and prostate cancer. Much is still not known about BPH. But one thing is certain: it is related to the presence of the male hormones that are responsible for secondary sex characteristics. That is why male eunuchs, who have had their testicles removed or whose testicles become unusable, do not develop BPH. Jewish men have a higher incidence of BPH than do Protestant or Catholic men. Man's best friend, the dog, is also troubled by BPH.
The good news is that you do not have to suffer from the symptoms of BPH, which have an obvious impact on the quality of your life. It is treatable.
BPH treatment depends on whether the symptoms are unbearable or the urinary function is severely affected. If you have BPH but can adjust to the symptoms, your doctor may very well choose a program referred to as "watchful waiting." This program involves annual (or more frequent) checkups, depending on the individual problem of the patient.
When the problem becomes intolerable, surgery is the preferred choice of physicians at the present time.