Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the tissue within the prostate gland. Benign means noncancerous, and hyperplasia means excessive growth of tissue. By age 40 to 45, your prostate gland enlarges normally as benign tumors develop inside. It is not known what causes these growths, but they may be related to hormonal changes that occur with aging. The prostate gland encompasses the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. As these tumors grow they may narrow the urethra, thus causing difficulty in urination.

Symptoms of BPH include:

  • Difficulty initiating a urine stream or maintaining urination
  • The need to urinate frequently
  • Powerful urges to urinate
  • Feeling that the bladder is never completely empty

Over 12 million Americans suffer from the effects of BPH. By age 60, more than half of all American men have microscopic signs of BPH, and by age 70, more than 40% will have enlargement that can be felt on physical examination.

Treatment and Follow-up Options for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia
BPH cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be relieved by surgery or drugs in many cases.

Watchful Waiting
Men whose symptoms are mild often opt for watchful waiting. This means that they report for regular checkups and have further treatment only if and when the symptoms become too bothersome.

There are several types of surgery that are available to relieve the symptoms of BPH.

Transurethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP)
This procedure accounts for more than 90% of all BPH surgeries. TURP relieves symptoms quickly, typically doubling the urinary flow within weeks. This procedure involves removing the urethra’s lining and bits of excess prostate tissue to expand the urethra.

Transurethral Needle Ablation (TUNA)
Uses radio frequency energy to kill excess prostate tissue.

Partial Prostatectomy
Portion of the prostate gland is surgically removed to relieve pressure on the urethra.

Drug Therapy
Two major classes of drugs are available, alpha adrenergic blockers and finasteride.

  • Alpha adrenergic
    Relaxes the muscle portion of the prostate and the bladder neck, thus allowing urine to flow more freely.
  • Finasteride
    Shrinks the prostate by blocking an enzyme that converts the male hormone testosterone into a more potent growth-stimulating form.

Please consult with your physician to determine what treatment is most appropriate for your condition and the possible side effects.

Important Questions to Ask Your Doctor

  • For my diagnosis what treatment options do I have?
  • What do you suggest and why?
  • What are the benefits of this option?
  • What are the potential risks or side effects of this option?
  • Will I need more tests? For what purpose?
  • What can I do to make my treatment most effective?

For additional information about BPH, the following resources are available:

National Cancer Institute
Cancer Information Service (CIS) 800-4-CANCER
The Cancer Information Service (CIS) and Cancernet are National Cancer Institute programs which provide a nationwide telephone service and web site for cancer patients and their families and friends.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) is a voluntary organization with a national office in Atlanta Georgia, and local facilities across the country. It supports research, patient education programs, and other services for family members, as well as free booklets on bladder cancer and home care.

Prostate Cancer InfoLink


This report is intended for patient education and information only. It does not constitute advice, nor should it be taken to suggest or replace professional medical care from your physician. Your treatment options may vary, depending upon medical history and current condition. Only your physician and you can determine your best option. Provided to you as a service by AmeriPath, Inc