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Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Benign prostatic hyperplasia, abbreviated as BPH, is a prostate gland enlargment caused by benign growth. The word 'hyperplasia' refers to an overgrowth of healthy cells. After most men pass the age of forty, tbey will experience benign prostatic hyperplasia as a normal part of aging. Because the urethra runs through the transition zone of the prostate gland, the benign growth may compress the urethra. The compression of the urethra as well as possible pressure on the urinary bladder may cause the following symptoms: frequent urination, especially at night, a feeling of not being able to empty the bladder completely, or urgency.

These symptoms may be mistaken for symptoms of prostate cancer, since both prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia involve the prostate gland’s enlargement. However, men who experience benign prostatic hyperplasia do not always need to seek treatment. Medical treatment is needed only when the prostate gland enlargement interferes with daily life, such as having to get up several times during the night to urinate, or avoiding situations where bathrooms are unavailable due to urgency or fear of urgency. However, it is also possible for BPH and prostate cancer to coexist, so a man with BPH may also want to consider additional testing for prostate cancer after his BPH diagnosis.

Treatment for severe benign prostatic hyperplasia can include the transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). TURP creates a wider passage for the urehtra by cutting out parts of the prostate gland. Patients who undergo TURP and later develop prostate cancer, however, may not be eligible for certain prostate cancer treatments, such as brachytherapy or cryotherapy. For patients who experience an even more severe enlargment of the prostate gland, invasive treatment such as prostate surgery may be used. Treatments such as cryotherapy, radiation therapy, laser therapy, and microwave therapy may also be available to treat a swollen prostate gland. The goal is to destroy a portion of the prostate gland and to let the body reabsorb the tissue. These treatments may not be as effective as TURP.

Alternative medicine is available for treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia. Three popular herbal supplements are saw palmetto, pygeum Africanum, and cernilton. Men who wish to treat symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia with alternative medicine, however, must first speak with their doctors about possible risk to health. Some preliminary, short-term research indicates that saw palmetto, a dwarf palm tree, may relieve symptoms of BPH. Pygeum Africanum, or African plum tree, bark may ease the severity of urinary side effects. The bark of the pygeum Africanum is used in Europe, but is not as popular in the United States due to fewer medical studies to test effectiveness. Cernilton is a commercial name for a combination of rye grasses's pollen extracts. The makers of cenilton claim that the supplement has an anti-inflammatory effect on the muscles of the bladder. The effect helps the muscles to relax and therby relieves urinary symptoms.


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