Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

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During the first two decades of a man’s life, the prostate gland grows constantly until it reaches the size of approximately 20 cm3. Between the ages of 20 and 40 this growth stops, and then starts again around the fifth decade of life. From then on, it will continue growing.

This process is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and, as its name indicates, it is not related to prostate cancer, but it can become a health problem. The greatest risk is obstruction and the resultant difficulty in urinating. Nevertheless, both the age at which this growth occurs as well as the size the prostate can reach vary from person to person.

Besides age, other factors have been related to prostate enlargement. Among these are alcoholism an liver cirrhosis, two conditions which increase the concentration of estrogen, a hormone of the blood that simulates prostate enlargement. Likewise, family history can be another factor indicating risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, since the sons of patients who have shown this disorder have a risk up to four times greater than other men of developing the disease. In many of these cases, BPH appears at an early age (sometimes before 50 years of age) and the gland can reach a large volume: eight out of every ten men between 60 and 80 years of age will have prostate growth that surpasses 20cm3.

Extract from Prostate Cancer: A Patient’s Guide