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Is There a Correlation Between BPH & Prostate Cancer?

24 January of 2018

With age, many men begin to have problems with the prostate. These problems are mostly associated with benign tumor, but in some male persons, prostate cancer develops.

Some people ask themselves: "Is prostate cancer related to benign enlargement of the prostate?".

Below we will try to answer this question. But first, we will tell you what benign prostatic hyperplasia is & what prostate cancer is, so that you can understand the nature of these diseases and the difference between them.


  • 1 What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?
    • 1.1 Causes of BPH
    • 1.2 BPH Symptoms
    • 1.3 BPH Treatment
  • 2 Prostate Cancer – Common Male Malignant Disease
    • 2.1 Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer & How to Prevent It
  • 3 Can BPH Lead to Prostate Cancer?
  • 4 BPH and Cancer – the Conclusion

What is Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)?

BPH comparisonBenign prostatic hyperplasia, commonly known as BPH and formerly referred to as prostate adenoma, is a non-malignant condition, which is common among men of older age. It is characterized by enlargement of prostate tissue. The prostate is a gland that present only in male persons. It produces fluid, which is one of the components of semen. According to studies, more than 70% of male persons over the age of 70 have enlarged prostate, although some of them don’t experience any symptoms.

In case of the disease, connective tissue and epithelium are growing in the prostate gland, which leads to its increase. The upper part of the urethra passes through the gland, so its growth can block the normal current of urine. As a consequence of developing urinary retention, the bladder & kidneys may eventually become affected.

Causes of BPH

The precise cause of the disease is unknown; however, some risk factors have been specified. Risk factors for the development of hyperplasia are genetic predisposition, increased blood pressure, diabetes, weight gain, adverse environmental factors, a deterioration of the balance of estrogens and androgens. But the most important factor is the biological aging of the male body.

BPH Symptoms

Manifestations of the disease are mainly associated with micturition disorders, which in medicine are called lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

They’re divided into three groups:

  1. Symptoms of the phase of urine accumulation. Men may suffer from frequent urination; they may develop the so-called urinary urgency (an irresistible urge to empty the bladder). Also, men often have to go to the toilet at night.
  2. Symptoms of the emptying phase. The urine stream becomes weak; it can be interrupted and splattered. A patient needs to push for emptying the bladder.
  3. Post-urination symptoms. After urination, urine dripping and a feeling of dissatisfaction appear.

It should be noted that hyperplasia of the organ doesn’t always make itself felt. Many men have a marked enlargement of the gland without a single clinical manifestation.

BPH Treatment

The most popular method of treating mild & moderate symptoms of the disease is medication treatment.

There are some options:

  1. Alpha blockers. These meds provide relaxation effect on the enlarged organ. For example, a popular drug is Flomax*, which belongs to the class of alpha-blockers. The principle of its work is weakening the muscles of the neck of the bladder & prostate, which in turn leads to relief of annoying symptoms. A similar principle of action is demonstrated by Doxazosin**.
  2. 5α-Reductase inhibitors. These drugs affect the hormonal level of a man, contributing to the normalization of his condition. For example, Proscar (Finasteride) works by reducing dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is an important factor of prostate tissue proliferation. Decreased DHT leads to prostate gland's shrinkage. Avodart (Dutasteride) has the same mechanism of action.
  3. Complex therapy. In some occasions, a doctor may prescribe both a drug belonging to the alpha blockers class and a5α-reductase inhibitor.
  4. Cialis. Generic Cialis, a well-known anti-ED tablet, is a new approach in BPH treatment, which became available in 2011. This option is very beneficial for those who suffer both from ED and BPH. However, males experiencing only BPH also can use this medication (or choose meds from another class, like Flomax). It’s worth noting that sildenafil (Canadian Viagra) may also improve BPH-associated symptoms, however, it hasn’t been approved for treating BPH. 

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Other BPH treatment approaches include surgical operations and minimally invasive approaches. These options are typically used in cases of moderate and severe course of the condition. The correct choice should be made by a qualified doctor, who should consider such factors as a patient’s age, his general health, and amount of discomfort.

Prostate Cancer – Common Male Malignant Disease

Prostate cancer is one of the most widespread malignant diseases among male persons (after skin cancer), however it can often be treated or even cured successfully. In case of cancer, the growth of the gland cells is out of control. Most tumors in the prostate are adenocarcinomas; sarcomas and carcinomas occur more rarely.

Prostate tumor is usually detected in one of three ways:

  • screening (usually PSA test) in patients without symptoms;
  • prostate tissue biopsy in men with LUTS;
  • examination of patients who already have metastases that have spread to other organs and tissues of the body, for example, bone metastasis.

Early stages of the disease are often masked. Symptoms of more severe cancer may include hematuria (blood in urine), poor erection, urinating problems, weakness in the legs, etc. As for the urinary symptoms, which we have described above, they are caused mainly by prostatic hyperplasia. According to researches, only a small percentage of patients have LUTS, which are directly related to malignant tumors inside the prostate gland.

Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer & How to Prevent It

Prostate Cancer RiskThe cause of the cancer is DNA changes (inherited or acquired). Main risks of prostate cancer occurrence include ageing (similar to BPH) and family history. In addition, the disease develops more often in American-African men than in white men. Other possible risk factors include smoking, exposure to chemicals, chronic prostatitis, venereal diseases, eating a lot of fat-rich dairy products, etc.

There is no scientifically proven method to prevent prostate cancer. However, there are some recommendations following which men can lower the risk of this disease occurrence. Some meds may help cut prostate cancer risk. These include Avodart*** and Proscar**** (which have been mentioned above). In spite of being safe, these drugs have not been approved by the FDA to be administered as prostate cancer preventive medicines. Currently, healthcare scientists cannot state that undertaking a course of preventive treatment with one of these drugs is really efficient in controlling prostate cancer. If male persons need more information about these drugs they should see their doctors to discuss all the details.

*** For more information about Avodart, please visit this page:

***** For more information about Proscar, please visit this page:

Anyway, according to the American Cancer Society, jointly with doctors men should make an informed decision on undergoing prostate cancer screening. Male persons at average risk should start thinking about it at the age of 50, while those belonging to the high-risk category (African-Americans and persons having prostate cancer in their family history) should consider this issue at the age of 45.

Can BPH Lead to Prostate Cancer?

Some people believe that an enlarged prostate is a risk of cancer (although known cancer risks do not include the BPH factor). Indeed, among doctors there is an opinion that “neglected” cases of prostatic hyperplasia, which require surgical intervention, often acquire a malignant course. But there are studies that disprove this view.

Thus, researchers from Guy's Hospital, London, R. Chang et al. (2012) concluded that BPH is not a known risk factor for prostate cancer occurrence, although the two diseases often coexist. Nevertheless, the researchers do not consider benign prostate enlargement a precursor of prostate cancer. Although BPH doesn’t raise the risk of development of malignant tumors in the prostate, it can increase the likelihood of timely cancer diagnosis, as urinary symptoms force a man to go to the clinic.

In 2014, scientists at the University of Sheffield, S. Miah and J. Catto, made a slightly different conclusion. They reported that some epidemiological data suggested a raised risk of cancer development during life in men with the prostate enlargement. But they could not establish a confident causal link from the available data, emphasizing the need for more global epidemiological research.

BPH and Cancer – the Conclusion

BPH and prostate cancer are different diseases, although they affect one and the same organ, and some risk factors for these diseases coincide (for example, ageing). According to studies, there is no apparent correlation between BPH & cancer. Nevertheless, a small part of men with urinary symptoms may have cancerous formations in prostate that cause these symptoms.

Therefore, in case of BPH urinary symptoms, a man should visit a doctor to make sure that he does not have signs of developing a malignant disease. It is also important to treat prostate ailments such as BPH & prostatitis, in time. Elderly men are recommended to regularly check the prostate, regardless of the presence of symptoms.

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