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Does an enlarged prostate increase my chances of getting prostate cancer?

A man who has an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), may worry that it could become prostate cancer. Most men who get prostate cancer also have some degree of BPH, but it doesn't mean that BPH led to cancer.

The cause-and-effect relationship between the two is not very well established, largely because the natural course of prostate cancer remains pretty much a puzzle. But BPH has been associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer in some studies, but it has not in others. There is no clear increase in risk as a result of having a "normal" enlargement of the prostate. Normal is used because if men live long enough an enlarged prostate is almost inevitable. It seems part of the normal aging process. But does an early onset of BPH affect the risk of prostate cancer?

Prospective studies that have followed men who have had prostate surgery to relieve symptoms of BPH show no increase in risk of cancer compared to men without BPH. It appears that it is more a case that having early BPH increases the chance of prostate cancer being detected, but not that it increases the chance of it developing, or progressing. The same urinary symptoms that characterize BPH are also warning signs of possible prostate cancer, so they prompt screening. And it is well established that when men are screened more, more prostate cancer is found.

Having an enlarged prostate does not affect your chances of getting prostate cancer. Although the two ailments have similar symptoms, like difficulty controlling urination, pain and bleeding while urinating, they are not related. However, this doesn't mean that someone with an enlarged prostate does not have prostate cancer. Sometimes cancer can be difficult to detect, so usually when a portion of the prostate is removed during surgery for an enlarged gland, it's tested for cancer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.