Enlarged Prostate: Is It Cancer?

Prostate enlargement is one of the most prevalent conditions in men. It’s typically expected for men over age 50 because the likelihood of developing it increases with age. In fact, there’s a belief that says a man has lived long enough if he has an enlarged prostate.

On the contrary, other men take enlarged prostate negatively. They think it’s a kind of cancer or a condition that can increase their risk of developing prostate cancer,  posing a severe threat to their health.

Is prostate enlargement related to prostate cancer? Let’s figure it out here.

What Does “Prostate” and Its Enlargement Mean?

The prostate is a small gland, about the size and shape of a walnut, in the male reproductive system. It helps men make seminal fluid (a whitish fluid mixed with sperm to form semen) that men ejaculate when they’re sexually stimulated.

The prostate is located low in the pelvis, between the bladder and the penis. Specifically, it sits in front of the rectum (the last and the most distal part of the large intestine) and surrounds part of the urethra (the tube that lets urine leave the bladder and through the penis).

As men age, their prostate is likely to increase in size, which narrows their urethra and decreases their urine flow. In medical terms, this enlargement is called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The actual cause of BPH is unknown. However, as mentioned, aging-related factors, hormonal changes, and cellular changes in the testicles may have a role in prostate enlargement.

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Is BPH Related to Prostate Cancer?

Simply put, the word “benign” in prostate enlargement’s medical term “benign prostatic hyperplasia” literally means “not cancer.” Instead, it’s only “hyperplasia” or “abnormal cell growth.” In other words, benign prostatic hyperplasia, BPH, or enlarged prostate isn’t linked to cancer and doesn’t increase men’s risk of prostate cancer.

Possible Symptoms of BPH (and Prostate Cancer)

The problem is that the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer can be similar, which may result in a misconception of having cancer or leaving cancer untreated. Every person has different symptoms for BPH and prostate cancer; some may not have symptoms at all. 

But to be safe, make a medical appointment right away if you have or experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Chronic back, hip, or pelvic pain
  • Blood in the semen or urine
  • Difficulty in starting urination
  • Difficulty in completely emptying the bladder
  • Weak or interrupted urine flow
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Burning sensation or pain  during urination
  • Painful ejaculation

Remember that only doctors can accurately diagnose BPH. To diagnose, they have to do several different tests, such as urine tests and other tests that can be done only at the hospital. Some of these tests must rule out other conditions that can cause similar symptoms to BPE, such as prostate cancer.

BPH Treatment

The Treatment for BPH will depend on the severity of the symptoms. Mild symptoms don’t usually require immediate treatment, but getting a check-up is still necessary. Doctors will also advise a few lifestyle changes, including:

  • Doing regular exercise
  • Drinking less in the evening
  • Limiting or avoiding the intake of alcohol, caffeine, and fizzy drinks
  • Limiting or avoiding  intake of artificial sweeteners
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For moderate to severe symptoms, doctors will typically prescribe alpha-blockers and 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, drugs that can reduce the prostate size and relax the bladder. Without insurance, their cost may range from $25 to more than $200. The good thing is that prescription cards and discount coupons, like Flomax Coupon, can provide savings for this medication.

If moderate to severe symptoms don’t respond to medicine, surgery is recommended. One of the most common treatments is the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). During this treatment, doctors insert a resectoscope (a thin, tube-like tool that can remove internal body tissues) into the urethra. It’s “transurethral” because doctors only insert this endoscope without cutting into any part of the prostate.

The overall cost of the TURP surgery may vary, ranging from $5,000 or more than $15,000. It’s very costly even with insurance, but there are ways to make it more cost-efficient, depending on one’s needs and preferences. Contact the nearest hospital to get a better and more accurate evaluation.

Complications of BPH

If left untreated, BPH can result in the following complications:

  • urinary tract infection (UTI); and
  • acute urinary retention (AUR).

Above all, AUR is a complication to watch out for. It’s the most common urologic emergency, typically characterized by a sudden and painful inability to pass urine voluntarily. Its other symptoms include severe lower abdominal pain and swollen bladder that can be felt on the skin with hands. It’s a significant complication or long-term outcome of BPH. Go immediately to your nearest hospital if symptoms of AUR are experienced.

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Final Thoughts

Prostate enlargement, medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), isn’t cancer and doesn’t develop into one. However, it still needs medical attention. At its worst, it can result in complications ranging from a weak bladder to kidney failure. Hence, watchful waiting or getting annual check-ups is a must.


  • Timothy P. Carnes

    Timothy P. Carnes is a certified personal trainer with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from the University of Florida. With over 8 years of experience in the fitness industry, Timothy is an expert in strength and conditioning, body composition, and overall health and wellness. He also holds certifications in strength and conditioning through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and corrective exercise through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). As an author at FitGAG, he shares his knowledge and expertise on a variety of topics, including strength training, body composition, and overall health and wellness tips. Timothy believes that consistency and discipline are the keys to achieving fitness goals, and he strives to inspire his readers to prioritize their fitness and wellness journey. Through his articles, Timothy aims to empower his readers to take control of their health, enhance their performance, and live their best lives.

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