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Know The Difference Between BPH and Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer are two of the most common conditions affecting the prostate gland. Both conditions share similar symptoms which is why men often think they have prostate cancer when they don’t. This article discusses the difference between BPH and prostate cancer symptoms, so you can determine just how quickly you should visit your doctor. But first, let’s get started with a few facts and figures.

How many people are diagnosed with prostate cancer and BPH?

BPH and prostate cancer are the two most common conditions affecting the prostate gland, which forms part of a male’s reproductive system.

Just because prostate cancer is pretty common doesn't mean your symptoms automatically point to cancer. Many symptoms of prostate cancer are also shared with other conditions like infections or BPH (abnormal cell growth). The signs of BPH and prostate cancer can be alike. Here's what you should know, and when you should visit your doctor.

Prostate cancer in a nutshell

Cancer begins when cells undergo alterations in their DNA, leading to the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells. The specific triggers for this process in the prostate are not yet fully understood.

The prostate gland, only found in males, makes part of the fluid in semen. It's a small gland, about the size of a walnut, located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The tube carrying urine and semen to the penis, called the urethra, passes through the center of the prostate.

Most prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas, growing slowly from the gland cells.

BPH and other conditions

Other prostate conditions can cause symptoms similar to those of prostate cancer. These conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis. An enlarged prostate (BPH) is non-cancerous and is generally the result of aging, testosterone, and genetic factors.

In benign prostatic hyperplasia, the term ‘benign’ indicates that it's not cancer. ‘Hyperplasia’ refers to an increased number of noncancerous cells. BPH has no link to cancer and does not increase the risk of getting prostate cancer.

Prostatitis is another common prostate condition and refers to inflammation of the prostate gland resulting from a bacterial infection. About half of all men will experience prostatitis at some point in their lives.

The difference between BPH and prostate cancer symptoms

While BPH and prostate cancer are two very different conditions, some of their symptoms are similar. These include:

Other symptoms of BPH are:

Other symptoms of prostate cancer are:

Pain in the hips and back is often a result of cancer spreading or exerting pressure on the spinal cord, which is generally not experienced in patients with BPH. In BPH, the enlarging prostate constricts the urethra, causing bladder hypertrophy and slowing the normal flow of urine. This is why BPH primarily exhibits symptoms related to urination.

In some cases, patients may have a firm or hard prostate, indicating the presence of a nodule or tumor. These nodules and tumors can be either benign or malignant, meaning a hard prostate is a potential sign of cancer. However, it can also be associated with prostate stones.

Blockages from chronic inflammation or BPH cause stones to form around or within the prostate. According to a study in the World Journal of Men’s Health, approximately 80% of prostate stones are composed of calcium phosphate. Importantly, these stones are non-cancerous.

So, now you understand the difference between BPH and prostate cancer symptoms, what should you do?

When to see a doctor

In essence, if you're noticing symptoms, they could indicate various conditions. Early detection is crucial for a positive prognosis, and since BPH shares numerous symptoms with cancer, it's wise to prioritize your well-being with regular check-ups.

How is BPH diagnosed?

Your doctor is likely to evaluate your situation by asking questions about the intensity and nature of your symptoms and their impact on your daily life. Additional tests such as a digital rectal exam, prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, ultrasound, cystoscopy, urine flow study, or prostate MRI may be employed to verify the diagnosis.

Early identification of BPH is crucial because untreated, it can result in complications such as urinary tract infections, damage to the bladder or kidneys, the formation of bladder stones, and incontinence. It's essential to differentiate BPH from more severe conditions like prostate cancer.

Not everyone with BPH requires treatment. The approach to treating BPH varies based on the severity of symptoms, ranging from watching to medication or surgery. Here at MINT STL, we offer Prostate Artery Embolization (PAE), a safe and speedy outpatient treatment that eliminates the symptoms of BPH and enriches the quality of life overall. It’s an ideal treatment for those individuals who are tired of taking medication and prefer not to have open surgery.

If your BPH is wearing you down, why not schedule a consultation with the experienced team at MINT and start living life to the full, once more?


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