The link between an enlarged prostate and prostate cancer
It can be frightening to discover that you have a symptom of prostate cancer. However, its diagnosis is not as simple. Several signs and symptoms of prostate cancer overlap with other ailments such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Both conditions have a high prevalence worldwide. But is there a link between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer?
In this article, Dr Shalabh Agrawal, a leading urologist in Gurgaon, talks about the association and difference between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
What is the link between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer?
Throughout his life, a man’s body including his prostate undergoes various changes – normal and abnormal. However, all atypical prostate changes do not indicate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide. Prostate enlargement is prevalent in nearly 70% of men over the age of 50. Besides the high incidence rate, these ailments have a few overlapping symptoms.
Let us begin by understanding what these conditions are all about.
What are enlarged prostate and prostate cancer?
Prostate enlargement (BPH) is a condition that causes the prostate to grow. It majorly affects older men over the age of 50 years. Nonetheless, BPH can begin developing in a man starting from the age of 40.
Prostate cancer is a condition that leads to the growth and spread of cancer cells in the prostate. This cancer can affect any man at any age.
BPH vs prostate cancer: Symptoms
The similarities in enlarged prostate vs prostate cancer are present in their symptoms. The common set of symptoms in prostate cancer and enlarged prostate are:
- Increased urge to urinate
- A frequent need to urinate
- Difficulty in starting urination
- A weak stream of urine
- An interrupted urine flow
- Inability to empty bladder completely
BPH vs prostate cancer: Causes
The exact cause behind prostate BPH is not known yet. As a man grows old, he experiences a shift in hormones that lead to prostate enlargement.
Prostate cancer, on the other hand, is caused by changes in the DNA that prompt the abnormal multiplication of cancer cells in the prostate.
BPH vs prostate cancer: Risk factors
Being overweight increases your chances of both BPH and prostate cancer. Another common risk factor between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer is the family history of the disease. If a person in your family has lived with BPH or prostate cancer, your chances of developing these ailment increase, significantly.
BPH vs prostate cancer: Diagnosis
Since both conditions affect the prostate gland, a few common tests are used for diagnosis. A Prostate-specific Antigen (PSA) test is used to check the amount of PSA protein in the gland. An increased PSA can indicate BPH or cancer.
Doctors also utilise a digital rectal exam to assess the condition of the prostate.
Based on your health and the results of these tests, your healthcare provider indicates additionally tests to specify the diagnosis. Tests done for BPH are urinary flow test, post-void residual test while tests for prostate cancer include ultrasound, biopsy and more.
BPH vs prostate cancer: Treatment
The treatment for both these conditions is unique. Prostate cancer is treated with a multidisciplinary approach and is usually more extensive. The objective of cancer treatment is to destroy the cancer cells and stop them from growing further.
Prostate cancer treatment may involve surgical removal of cancer cells, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and more.
While prostate enlargement is treated simply using surgical or non-surgical means to shrink the prostate back to its size and relieve symptoms.
Prostate enlargement treatment includes aspects of active surveillance, medicinal use to bring prostate back to its shape and alleviate symptoms, surgical intervention to remove excess prostate tissue among others.
Read: Everything you need to know about prostate enlargement: Benign prostatic hyperplasia
The link between BPH and prostate cancer
- They both have uncomfortable urinary symptoms
- Both these conditions affect older men
- Family history of the disease and obesity are common risk factors
- The initial diagnosis for both conditions is done through tests PSA test and digital rectal exam
What is the difference between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer?
The primary difference between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer is present in the name of BPH.
BPH, the medical term for prostate enlargement, stands for benign prostatic hyperplasia. ‘Benign’ means non-cancerous stating that the growth of the prostate gland does not involve cancer cells.
The resemblance between the two conditions raises the misconception that enlarged prostate mean cancer. However, The abnormal enlargement of the prostate gland is a result of changing hormones and not cancer.
What is the enlarged prostate cancer risk?
Enlarged prostate cancer risk is merely a myth. Prostate enlargement does not lead to an increased risk of developing cancer.
If you have been diagnosed with BPH, your risks of prostate cancer remain unaffected. Both the conditions are managed differently and not interrelated in the terms of risks.
However, factors such as obesity are common in both and may affect the health of your prostate.
The concluding note
The link between enlarged prostate and prostate cancer is well established. They do have several uniformities, nevertheless, prostate enlargement does not lead to cancer.
You can learn more about the health of your prostate at the CK Birla Hospital. Book an appointment with Dr Shalabh Agrawal, best urologist in Gurgaon today.
Also, read: The Growing Problem Of An Enlarged Prostate Gland