Enlarged prostate: Benign condition or sign of something serious?


Enlarged prostate: Benign condition or sign of something serious?

Enlarged prostate: It’s a condition that affects a whopping 50 percent of men over age 60 and 90 percent of men over age 85, and sometimes it has no symptoms, says Micah Blackmon, M.D., a urologist at Piedmont.

“Men frequently confuse enlargement of the prostate with prostate cancer,” says Dr. Blackmon. “The truth is, they are not related.”

Half of men with enlarged prostate will experience severe symptoms and these symptoms can vary. 

  • Nocturia, or waking at night to urinate 

  • Urgency to urinate 

  • Increased urination frequency

  • Slowing of urine stream 

  • A feeling that the bladder isn’t completely empty

  • Leaking or dribbling urine 


Left untreated, enlarged prostate can lead to a number of complications, from uncomfortable to serious: 

  • Recurrent urinary tract infections

  • Blood in the urine

  • Kidney and/or bladder damage 

  • Incontinence 

  • Bladder stones 

  • Inability to urinate, which requires the use of a catheter


It is diagnosed through:

  • Digital rectal exam

  • Ultrasound of the prostate 

  • Urine test to make sure there are no signs of infection that could be causing symptoms 

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which can help determine if a man is at risk for prostate cancer

Treatment options

Treatment options include medication, which can help shrink the prostate over time, or surgery for patients who do not respond to or cannot afford medication.

“If left untreated, enlargement of the prostate [can cause you to] develop problems later on,” he says. “But the majority of men with an enlargement of the prostate just have symptoms and that’s the primary reason we treat.”

Learn more about age-related prostate issues.


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