Both benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer are characterized by an enlarged prostate and are accompanied by a variety of urinary symptoms. The early symptoms of these two conditions are fairly similar and include increased urinary frequency, both during the day and during the night, as well as dribbling and urinary hesitancy. That said, many individuals with prostate cancer do not experience any symptoms at all. PSA levels are another interesting factor since both BPH and prostate cancer are characterized by elevated PSA levels. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen, which is a protein produced by cells in the prostate gland.
Taking a closer look at prostate cancer, this is the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States, after non-melanoma skin cancer. It typically affects the lateral lobes of the prostate gland, although other parts of the prostate can be affected as well. In some instances, prostate cancer spreads to the bones, particularly those around the pelvic area. Treatment depends on the aggressiveness of the tumor and the overall health of the individual, but often includes radiation therapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, and close monitoring.
Risk factors for benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer include age, family history, tobacco use, and obesity. For instance, individuals with a family history of prostate issues or testicular abnormalities are at an increased risk for BPH, while those with a family history of prostate cancer have a greater chance of developing prostate cancer themselves. In terms of age, both conditions tend to develop in older men, and cases in men below the age of 40 are extremely rare.
As for what causes benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer, researchers have yet to determine the exact reason that either BPH or prostate cancer develops, but the belief is that benign prostatic hyperplasia has to do with the effect of aging on male sex hormones, while prostate cancer has to do with the uncontrolled growth of prostate cancer cells. Moreover, BPH does not seem to increase an individual’s risk of developing prostate cancer later in life.
While prostate cancer is a cancerous disease that may spread to other parts of the body, benign prostatic hyperplasia is not cancerous and does not spread to different cells. In addition, BPH usually affects the central portion of the prostate, rather than the sides of the prostate, or lateral lobes. Lastly, elevated levels of alkaline phosphatase can indicate prostate cancer but not benign prostatic hyperplasia, since cancer can cause the release of ALP into the bloodstream.
Treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia and prostate cancer depends on a number of factors. For BPH, these factors include the age of the sufferer, the size of the prostate, and the symptoms that are present. For prostate cancer, factors include the age of the sufferer, the aggressiveness of the tumor, and the overall health of the patient. Sufferers of BPH will typically be treated with medications, dietary changes, and surgery. Dietary changes may include avoiding caffeine and alcohol, while surgery may be a transurethral resection of the prostate or a simple prostatectomy. In contrast, sufferers of prostate cancer will typically be treated with active surveillance, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy.