Diagnosing And Treating An Enlarged Prostate

Many older men will experience signs of an enlarged prostate at some point. Receiving an accurate diagnosis quickly can help alleviate symptoms and determine if the underlying problem is benign or something more serious.


When your prostate is enlarged, the most noticeable problems will be urinary symptoms. Typically, men will experience increased urgency and frequency of urination. There may also be the sensation that you do not completely empty your bladder, or after you urinate, remaining urine may dribble out. Pelvic pain and sexual dysfunction may also occur, especially if the underlying problem is ongoing. Once you notice any urinary symptoms, it is imperative to speak with your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. Some of these symptoms may be consistent with the development of diabetes or a urinary tract infection, or they may be indicative of a greater problem.


A digital rectal exam is the first test that will be used to determine if your symptoms are due to an enlarged prostate. Once your doctor determines your prostate is enlarged, they will order additional tests. A blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, which measures the level of an antigen only produced by the prostate, will be needed. Your PSA level can be elevated when your prostate is enlarged, but it does not tell your doctor whether enlargement is benign or cancerous. To determine the exact cause, a biopsy will be necessary. Under sedation, a radiologist can remove a small tissue sample from the prostate and send it to the pathology lab. A pathologist can determine if the tissue indicates abnormal cells, inflammation, or benign prostate issues.


Fortunately, most instances of an enlarged prostate are benign. Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is the most common cause of enlargement. The prostate becomes so enlarged that it constricts the urethra, making urination difficult and contributing to urinary retention. Treatment for BPH depends on the severity. In the earlier stages, medications can relax the prostate so it does not impede on the urethra. When BPH is more severe, medications to block hormones that are responsible for prostate growth might be necessary. In rare instances, an enlarged prostate is caused by cancer. The treatment for prostate cancer will depend on the stage. Medications that block androgens might be used in conjunction with chemo or radiation. Sometimes surgical removal of the prostate is the only option, especially if the cancer is aggressive or has returned.

Having routine prostate exams and knowing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate can help you catch the problem in the early stages. Most instances of an enlarged prostate are benign and can be managed with medication. Learn more about enlarged prostate and BPH symptoms from a local medical provider.