Prostate Cancer/BPH

What are the causes and effects of prostate problems?

Learn about Benign Prostate Hyperplasia

Benign prostate hyperplasia, or BPH, is the term for the enlarging of the prostate. It’s common for the prostate to do this with age. BPH is not cancerous, but it can cause the prostate to press down on the urethra. This pressure can cause problems with urination. One may lose bladder control and feel the need to urinate very often.1, 10, 11

First let's find out what the prostate gland is and what is does.

The prostate gland is a small gland that is only present in men and produces fluids that are part of semen.  It is about the size of a large walnut and sits just below your bladder.  It surrounds the urethra, like a collar.  Your urethra is a tube that carries urine outside of your body.  In some men, the prostate can enlarge and when this happens, it can cause the urethra to compress and this can cause symptoms such as not being able to urinate or feeling you have emptied your bladder completely, which it may not.  Conditions that can cause your prostate to enlarge include benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), prostate cancer, bacteria and non-bacteria prostatitis.1,2,3,5,12

Possible Causes

Doctors aren't sure exactly what causes the prostate to enlarge.  It may be due to changes in the balance of sex hormones as men grow older.7

Family history and ethnic background from may also be a risk factor.  For instance there is a higher incidence of BPH in Americans and Australians and less in Chinese, Indian and Japanese.2,3,5,10

How May this Impact You?

Most men with BPH have no complications.  But when there are problems, they usually come because of urine flow being blocked.  This condition is called “urinary retention".  This means being unable to empty the bladder completely.  

There are two kinds of urinary retention.  The first is called acute urinary retention (AUR for short).  This means you cannot urinate at all, even though you have a full bladder.  This happens suddenly and lasts only a short time.  It can be very painful, and it can cause recurrent UTIs, acute kidney failure and chronic kidney disease.  If you have AUR, you should contact your doc tor as soon as possible.1,2,4,10,11

The second kind of urinary retention is called chronic urinary retention (CUR).  Chronic means it is a long-lasting medical condition.  People with chronic urinary retention can urinate but cannot completely empty all of the urine from their bladders.  They may not know they have the condition until it causes another problem.  One of these problems could be the accidental loss of urine which is called urinary incontinence. Another of them is a urinary tract infection (UTI), which is an illness caused by harmful bacteria growing in the urinary tract.1,10

Some symptoms of BPH:1,2,10,11

  • Weak urine stream
  • Difficulty starting urination - hesitation
  • Stopping and starting while urinating
  • Dribbling at the end of urination
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination at night
  • Not being able to completely empty the bladder
  • Formation of stones in the bladder
  • Reduced kidney function
  • UTI (urinary tract infection)

What are my Treatment Options?

The first thing your doctor may do is ask you some questions and may run a series of tests.  This may include blood tests, a digital rectal exam (DRE), an ultrasound to see how your bladder is emptying and/or a urine flow test.1,3,10,11

When your symptoms are mild, your doctor may recommend “watchful waiting“.  This means he will want to see you once a year or more often to keep an eye on your symptoms.  If he sees that BPH may be a health risk for you, or if it is a big inconvenience, he may decide you need additional treatment.  There are many treatments that can make BPH less of a problem.  These include drugs, minimally invasive procedures done in the office and surgery.1,2,3,11

Where can I find more information?

You can learn more about BPH and other prostate issues by contacting your doctor and by visiting any of the following websites.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Urology Care Foundation

Please note that this information provided by Liberator Medical is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a medical professional.

Learn about Prostate Cancer

Cancer of the prostate is caused by cells in the prostate dividing without control. It may cause no symptoms in its early stages. But as it advances, it can cause urinary problems. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, but if caught early, the 5-year survival rate is very good.

Cancer of the prostate is caused by cells in the prostate dividing without control.  It may cause no symptoms in its early stages. But as it advances, it can cause urinary problems.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in men, but if caught early, the 5-year survival rate is very good.3,6,7,11

What are the Causes?1,2,7

Doctors are unsure of the exact causes of prostate cancer.  They do know that if someone in the family has had the disease, it is more likely to be diagnosed.  Ethnicity can play a role.  African Americans are twice as likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than other populations.  And the older you get, the higher your risk.  Lifestyle choices such as diet, smoking and exercise may also have an impact.

Research continues to better understand what causes the disease.  But most doctors agree, if you do things that are heart healthy, you may also keep your prostate healthy.  Eating right, exercising, watching your weight and not smoking can improve your health and help you avoid this disease.1,7,8

How may prostate cancer impact me?1,7,11

In its early stages, prostate cancer often causes no symptoms.  When symptoms do occur, they may include any of the following:

  • Dull pain in your pelvis or lower back
  • Frequent urination
  • Problems with urination such as being unable to urinate, pain, burning, or weakened urine flow
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • Painful ejaculation
  • General pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
  • Loss of appetite and/or weight
  • Persistent bone pain

How does my doctor screen for prostate cancer?

In the US, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death.  It is estimated that approximately 230,000 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2014 and there will be 29,000 people who will lose their life.  For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease early may provide a better chance of survival and recovery.  But there are risks to screening, so it’s important to talk about risks and benefits with your physician.7,8,11

What are my treatment options?

The first step is to diagnose.  The key screening tools are a digital rectal exam (DRE) where your doctor will look to see if you have an enlarged prostate and a blood test called a PSA (Prostate specific Antigen).  He may order additional tests.  If these are positive, you may need a biopsy where they take some tissue from your prostate.1,3,7,11

Once diagnosed, doctors use a range of treatments to help with prostate cancer.  If you are suffering from this disease, discuss these options with your doctor and ask if there are other potential alternatives

Some prostate cancers are very slow growing, so, like with BPH, your doctor may prescribe active surveillance (watchful waiting) as the best option.7,11

Your doctor may recommend taking hormones to lower your levels of testosterone (male hormone).  By doing this, you may be able to slow the growth of cancer cells over time.  These hormones may also be used in combination with Brachytherapy (radiation therapy) to shrink the prostate and the tumor.1,11

Brachytherapy is another prostate cancer treatment. It involves implanting radioactive “seeds” around your prostate gland.  These seeds stay permanently and deliver a dose of radiation directly to the cancer cells slowly over time.1,7  Side effects may include urinary problems, bowel problems, erectile dysfunction or impotence (difficulty in getting or keeping an erection of the penis), and fatigue (or tiredness).1,7,11

External radiation is another treatment for prostate cancer.  It uses high-energy X-rays directed from outside the body at the prostate gland.  Side effects may include problems with urination and impotence, as well as injury to the bowel.1,7

With some prostate cancers, surgery may be required to remove the prostate and lymph nodes affected with the disease.  The two most common side effects of this surgery are loss of bladder control (incontinence) and the inability to maintain an erection (impotence).1,7,11

Where can I find more information?

The following organizations publish resources for men with questions about prostate cancer:

Please note that this information provided by Liberator Medical is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a medical professional.

References for the article above

Click to view all the references for the article above.


  1. Kirby R.S. Prostate Disease and their Treatments, Health Press Oxford 2010
  2. Diseases and Conditions; Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, Updated 12/2001
  3. Urology Care Foundation (American Urology Association, BPH: Minimally invasive Management BPH, Updated 4/2013
  4. Lepo H, Management and Preventing Acute Urinary Retention, Rev Urol. 2005; 7 (Suppl 8) S26-S33
  5. National Kidney and Urological Diseases, Updated 8/2014 is Cancer,
  6. National Cancer Institute, 3/2014
  7. Urology Care Foundation (American Urology Association, Prostate Cancer, Updated 4/2014
  8. Information about Prostate Cancer and Screening, Bard Medical,
  9. Prostate Cancer Treatment – Questions and Answers, Bard Medical
  10. Pathophysiology of Disease: Introduction to Clinical Medicine, Seventh Edition, McGraw-Hill Education, 2014, pgs 26-40
  11. S Chao MD , R Chippendale MD, Current Diagnosis and Treatment: Geriatrics, Second Edition, Chapter 40, McGraw-Hill Education, 2014
  12. Campbell-Walsh Urology, 9th Edition, Saunders-Elsevier Philadelphia PA, 2007, pgs 57-61

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