Overview of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), Enlarged Prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called benign prostatic hypertrophy, is not simply a case of too many prostate cells. Prostate growth involves hormones, occurs in different types of tissue (e.g., muscular, glandular), and affects men differently.

As a result of these differences, treatment varies in each case. There is no cure for BPH and once prostate growth starts, it often continues, unless medical therapy is started.

The prostate grows in two different ways. In one type of growth, cells multiply around the urethra and squeeze it, much like you can squeeze a straw. The second type of growth is middle-lobe prostate growth in which cells grow into the urethra and the bladder outlet area. This type of prostate growth typically requires surgery.

Prostate Gland Anatomy

Prostate Images
Interior Image of Prostate
Click to enlarge

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located beneath the bladder and in front of the rectum in men. It is surrounded by a capsule of fibrous tissue called the prostate capsule. The urethra (tube that transports urine and sperm out of the body) passes through the prostate to the bladder neck. Prostate tissue produces prostate specific antigen and prostatic acid phosphatase, an enzyme found in seminal fluid (milky substance that combines with sperm to form semen).

Incidence & Prevalence of BPH

It is difficult to determine the exact incidence and prevalence of BPH because research groups often use different criteria to define the condition. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), benign prostatic hyperplasia affects more than 50 percent of men over age 60 and as many as 90 percent of men over the age of 70.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 10 Jun 1998

Last Modified: 23 Oct 2014