What Is BPH?

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Mera
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BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is a common condition among males and constitutes a normal part of aging for most. BPH is a histologic term used to describe the proliferation of the cells that make up the prostate, which ultimately will depend on the production of certain hormones. This process results in the enlargement of the gland, and as its name describes, this enlargement is benign or noncancerous.

It is estimated that about 50% of men may have BPH (at the cellular level) by the age of sixty, while the number increases to 90% by the age of 85 years old. Moreover, symptoms of BPH usually involve the lower urinary tract. Finally, there a several tests that aid in the diagnosis of BPH. Continue reading this article if you want to know more about benign prostatic hyperplasia.

1. Anatomy

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system that contributes to 30% of the semen by secreting an alkaline and whitish fluid. This fluid works to neutralize vaginal acidity, prolonging the lifespan of the sperm.

A thorough description of prostatic anatomy is crucial for a better understanding of the symptoms of BPH, as well as the specific tests used for diagnosis. The prostate is located in front of the rectum and distal to the urinary bladder. Moreover, it is traversed by a part of the urethra (prostatic urethra), which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body. Interestingly, the male urethra can be divided into an uppermost segment (prostatic urethra), a middle segment within the urethral sphincter (membranous urethra), and a lowermost segment within the penis (spongy urethra). Similarly, the prostate can be divided by lobes or zones. Specifically, there is a zone, located in the center of the gland, that surrounds the prostatic urethra (transition zone). BPH most commonly arises in the transition zone, which explains why in most patients with this condition, the urinary flow can be restricted in the early stages of BPH.

In contrast, prostate cancer most commonly arises in the peripheral zone of the gland (70% of cases), which means that, unlike BPH, it does not cause urinary symptoms at an early stage of the disease. In fact, most patients with prostate cancer will remain asymptomatic until advanced disease. Consequently, early screening for prostate cancer is of utmost importance.


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