Enlarged Prostate: What It Means and How It’s Treated
Millions of men in the United States have an enlarged prostate, a condition that becomes even more common with age. In fact, studies estimate about half of men over 50 years of age have an enlarged prostate, and that number soars to as high as 90 percent for men aged 80 years and older.
Causes and Symptoms
In most cases, prostate enlargement occurs as a result of a condition called benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), a common condition that develops as a result of the aging process. Other possible causes are prostate cancer and prostatitis, or inflammation of the prostate, which may be caused by an infection.
Although some men can have an enlarged prostate without even knowing it, most experience at least one of the following symptoms:
- A need to urinate more often
- A need to wake from sleep at least once each night to urinate
- Increased urgency to urinate
- A weak urine stream or a stream that starts and stops
- Incontinence or dribbling
- Straining when urinating or an inability to completely empty the bladder
Sometimes an enlarged prostate can be caused or accompanied by an infection, which can cause pain during urination as well as occasional blood in the urine.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The most common way to diagnose an enlarged prostate is with a digital rectal exam (DRE), which enables your doctor to gently feel the prostate to check for signs of enlargement. Sometimes, a blood test may also be ordered to measure the amount of a substance called prostate-specific antigen. Elevated levels of PSA may indicate the presence of prostate cancer in some cases, and a biopsy can be performed to determine if a tumor is present. Other times, you may be advised to wait and have the test performed a second time, since other issues like infection may also cause PSA levels to become elevated.
If an enlarged prostate is caused by BPH, treatment options include: medications, laser therapy, microwave therapy or other minimally invasive procedures to shrink the gland, or minimally invasive surgical procedures to remove all or part of the prostate. Enlargement caused by infection is usually treated with antibiotics. If cancer is present, radiation, chemotherapy and removal of the gland are all possible options.
If you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate the best way to relieve those symptoms and get the most appropriate care for your needs is to call our office and schedule an appointment. Georgia Urology is a leading provider of prostate screening and treatment, providing individualized care based on each patient’s needs for optimal results. Schedule your appointment today.