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You Have Only 1 Prostate. But Multiple Treatment Options Are Available

March 19, 2024 | By: Brooke Edwards, M.D.

Just because something is common, it isn’t necessarily easy to live with.

Ask any man after first experiencing the symptoms of an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is common. Nearly half of all men experience symptoms of BPH by the age of 60, and it’s among the leading conditions for which men make appointments with The Urology Group. 

Still, prevalence doesn’t make BPH any less concerning for each of these men as they try to manage the symptoms. To them, only one case counts – theirs. For this reason, we offer our patients a range of treatment options, so each can consider and choose the approach best for him.

This blog will detail those treatment options, but first let’s make clear why treatment is necessary.

The Prostate Is a Gland That Expands

Patients tend to wonder if they could have prevented a heath condition, but BPH is unavoidable for most. In many men, the prostate tissue just begins to grow between the ages of 40 to 50. Researchers aren’t certain why this occurs, although they do believe certain male hormones can trigger prostate tissue growth later in life.

If the tissue expands to the point of compressing the urethra, which runs from the bladder through the prostate, it is considered enlarged. The most common symptoms include:

  • difficulty starting to urinate;
  • urine leakage;
  • a weak urine stream; and
  • an urge to go frequently, particularly at night. 

The good news is BPH is non-cancerous, hence the word “benign” in the condition’s name. However, it can eventually compromise your bladder’s ability to push urine out and that could lead to more serious complications. Untreated, BPH can contribute to urinary tract infections (UTIs), incontinence, bladder damage that would require a catheter or adult diapers later in life. 

Navigating Your Treatment Options, Starting With a Diagnosis 

The first step to treating your BPH is recognizing the above symptoms. The next step is getting tested and diagnosed by a urologist. 

Typically, testing begins with a digital rectal exam, to feel the size and shape of the prostate; a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood testand a urine test. Your doctor might also perform bladder function tests, such as a scan to measure the amount of urine left in your bladder after you go to the bathroom.

In some cases, advanced tests might be prescribed. These include a cystoscopy (viewing the prostate using a slim, camera-equipped scope), an ultrasound, or a biopsy. 

If your prostate is mildly enlarged, you might be advised to simply modify your diet and change your bathroom habits. You also might be prescribed a medication. Some prescription drugs can calm the bladder muscles or gradually shrink the prostate.

If Your Diagnosis Calls for Surgery, You Have Minimally Invasive Options

Should an enlarged prostate cause complications, your doctor will likely consider a range of surgical procedures. Surgery no longer means a lengthy hospital stay and prolonged recovery. Many options are, in fact, outpatient. The first four can be performed right in our Norwood surgery center (or in a hospital) while the others are performed only in a hospital setting.

Among the leading treatments we offer today:

  • Prostatic urethral lift (UroLift®) ­– In this minimally invasive procedure, the physician implants into each side of the prostate two small devices that pull the enlarged tissue away from the urethra. There is no cutting or tissue removal. 
  • GreenLight™ Laser Therapy – During this outpatient procedure, the urologist vaporizes the enlarged tissue using currents that are delivered through a narrow scope inserted through the urethra. Most patients experience symptom improvement within 24 hours. 
  • Aquablation Therapy – This outpatient approach removes excess prostate tissue with powerful heat-free water jets. There are no incisions – the prostate is accessed through your urethra. 
  • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) ­– Considered the gold standard for moderate to severe BPH-related urinary problems, a TURP involves inserting a slim, camera-equipped instrument called a resectoscope through the urethra and to the prostate. Using the camera, your doctor trims away excess tissue. 
  • Holmium laser enucleation of the prostate (HoLEP)  This procedure is performed much like a TURP, but removes the prostate tissue in one piece, essentially coring it out. A separate instrument then cuts the tissue into smaller fragments to be removed. This minimally invasive option is often prescribed for very enlarged prostates.
  • Robotic prostatectomy  Robotic surgery is similar to a HoLEP but requires an incision through the skin to remove the inside of the prostate. This surgery might require an overnight hospital stay.

You and your physician will work together to find a treatment that suits you. 

Navigating BPH is a Journey; Choose the Right Path

Your choice of BPH treatment depends on many factors, the most important being when and how you start your recovery journey. Be good to yourself – the symptom won’t go away, so don’t try to tolerate them. 

The medical community, and The Urology Group, invest a lot into providing the most adaptable, effective treatments for you. Take the first step today, so you can live your best life in many tomorrows to come. 

Want to learn more about BPH? Click here to read our Patient Guide to understanding benign prostatic hyperplasia.

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