The Prostate is a chestnut sized gland which is made up of two lobes. This gland secretes a fluid which nourishes the sperm. The Prostate is located in front of the rectum, just below the bladder (where urine is stored). It is an important part of the male reproductive system. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is a medical condition characterized by enlargement of the prostate gland. This is caused due to abnormal cell proliferation (hyperplasia). The symptoms of this medical condition usually appear when the affected person is in his 50s.
BPH is a very common medical condition. A research study published in the year 2008 suggests that this medical condition is caused by malfunction of valves in the internal spermatic veins. Research scientists discovered a venous route, by which free testosterone reaches the prostate in extremely high concentrations. This results in proliferation of the prostate cells, causing enlargement of the gland. This study was published in the journal of andrology.
Many experts believe that androgens play a major role in this medical condition. As per studies conducted in China, men leading a western lifestyle are more likely to be affected by BPH than men leading a traditional or rural lifestyle. Research studies on animals have suggested that this medical condition may be caused due to higher estrogen levels within the prostate gland. Estrogen increases the activity of substances that promote cell growth.
High levels of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) in the prostate in known encourage the growth of cells. This results in enlargement of the gland. It is observed that men who do not produce DHT do not develop BPH. This medical condition may also be caused by increased sensitivity of some cells (in the prostate) to hormones that influence growth.
Diagnostic procedures for BPH are similar to those used for prostate cancer. BPH can be detected by digital rectal exam (DRE). During the process the doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. This procedure helps in estimating the size and condition of the prostate. Doctors may use cytoscope to diagnose this medical condition. They may recommend urine tests (urinalysis) to check for infection. Doctors may also observe the urine flow rate.
Doctors may check if the bladder is emptied on urination. Cytoscope is an instrument that is inserted through the penis. This facilitates examination of the prostate. Blood tests and ultrasound scan are generally performed to rule out malignancy. Transrectal ultrasonography is very helpful in diagnosing BPH. Doctors may also ask the affected person to observe and report his drinking and urination patterns. A biopsy of the prostate helps in diagnosing this medical condition.
Prostate enlargement in BPH is not malignant. Fifty percent of the men over fifty years of age develop symptoms of this medical condition, but only ten percent need medical intervention. BPH is definitely not a precursor to prostate cancer.