Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the medical term for an enlarging prostate gland. It is a very common condition in aging males, and more than half of men over the age of 60 have mild to moderate prostate enlargement. The condition does not always cause symptoms or affect health, but it can result in difficulties urinating and chronic lower abdomen pain. The most common benign prostatic hyperplasia treatment is a daily course of medications that relax prostate muscles and gradually shrink the gland. Surgery to remove part or all of the prostate may be necessary if medications are ineffective at relieving symptoms.
In many cases, an enlarging prostate is discovered during routine medical exams well before it starts causing symptoms. When the condition is found very early, the doctor may choose not to initiate benign prostatic hyperplasia treatment. Instead, the patient is simply instructed to schedule regular checkups to monitor changes in his body. Early treatment is usually avoided since benign prostatic hyperplasia often goes away on its own or never causes problems.
If a doctor decides that benign prostatic hyperplasia treatment is needed, he or she usually prescribes a medication to prevent or relieve urination problems. Patients are commonly given drugs called alpha-blockers that inhibit nerve cell activity in the prostate. The medication relaxes muscles to prevent the prostate from throbbing and putting pressure on the urinary tract. The most common alpha-blockers for benign prostatic hyperplasia treatment include doxazosin, tamsulosin, and terazosin.
A large prostate that already causes chronic symptoms may not respond to alpha-blockers alone. Urologists often prescribe an additional medication that actually shrinks the prostate over time. Drugs containing dutasteride or finasteride shrink the prostate by preventing the release of testosterone in the gland, the chemical that triggers enlargement. Most patients who take alpha-blockers and prostate-shrinking drugs exactly as prescribed by their doctors experience significant symptom relief.
If a patient does not respond to medical care, he may need to undergo surgery. The most common surgical benign prostatic hyperplasia treatment is a procedure called transurethral resection. A surgeon guides an endoscope and a scalpel through the urethra to the interior of the prostate to cut away excess tissue. Another procedure, called transurethral needle ablation, is preferred by some surgeons and accomplishes the same effect. An electric needle is inserted and heated inside the prostate, where it burns away tissue.
A prostate that is very large and causes severe symptoms may need to be removed. In a procedure called a prostatectomy, a surgeon makes an incision in the abdomen and scrapes out the inner core of the prostate. Prostatectomy surgery is usually effective at relieving symptoms, though complications such as blood loss and urinary tract damage can occur.