n. enlarged prostate; appears to be part of the natural aging process [syn: BPH]
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also called benign enlargement of the prostate (BEP or BPE), is a noncancerous increase in size of the prostate. BPH involves hyperplasia of prostatic stromal and epithelial cells, resulting in the formation of large, fairly discrete nodules in the transition zone of the prostate. When sufficiently large, the nodules impinge on the urethra and increase resistance to flow of urine from the bladder. This is commonly referred to as "obstruction," although the urethral lumen is no less patent, only compressed. Resistance to urine flow requires the bladder to work harder during voiding, possibly leading to progressive hypertrophy, instability, or weakness (atony) of the bladder muscle. BPH involves hyperplasia (an increase in the number of cells) rather than hypertrophy (a growth in the size of individual cells), but the two terms are often used interchangeably, even among urologists. Although prostate specific antigen levels may be elevated in these patients because of increased organ volume and inflammation due to urinary tract infections, BPH does not lead to cancer or increase the risk of cancer.
Adenomatous prostatic growth is believed to begin at approximately age 30. An estimated 50% of men have histologic evidence of BPH by age 50 and 75% by age 80; in 40–50% of these men, BPH becomes clinically significant. BPH was one of the ten most prominent and costly diseases in men older than 50 years of age in a study in the United States.