Medical questions & health advice by licensed doctors
"What causes an enlarged prostate?"
My dad has been diagnosed with an enlarged prostate. What causes this? I don't want to end up with the same problem even though I am only 25 right now. Should I start being checked for it right now?
An enlarged prostate is a very common development as men age. In some cases a large prostate can be associated with prostate cancer (why primary care physicians discuss cancer screening with older patients), but a condition called benign prostate hypertrophy is by far the most common reason for prostatic enlargement. As the name implies, BPH is NOT cancer and simply refers to the changes that are a very common part of the aging process. In addition to aging or cancer, chronic infection or inflammation can also lead to an enlarged prostate. Infection is something that can occur in younger men, but it is typically associated with symptoms (painful urination, more frequent urination etc). With regard to screening for an enlarged prostate, there is no need to start anything now. The symptoms of a large prostate include difficulty starting to urinate, increased frequency of urination, waking up at night to urinate, or a weak urinary stream. If you notice any symptoms like that, you should definitely bring them up with your physician. There are medications (which your father may have started) that can help shrink the prostate to help control symptoms. However, in the absence of symptoms, there is no reason for a young man to be screened for prostate concerns. It sounds like you are concerned about your family history as it relates to your own health. The best thing to do with any health concern is to see your primary care physician to discuss in more detail. He or she can talk more about your person health as it relates to your family history, prior medical issues, and physical exam.
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