Benign prostatic hyperplasia, a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland, is the most common benign tumor found in men.
As is true for prostate cancer, BPH occurs more often in the West compared to Eastern countries, such as Japan and China, and may be more common among blacks. Not long ago, a study found a possible genetic link for BPH in men younger than age 65 who have a very enlarged prostate: Their male relatives were four times more likely than other men to need BPH surgery at some point in their lives, and their brothers had a six-fold increase in risk.
BPH produces symptoms by obstructing the flow of urine through the urethra. Symptoms related to BPH are present in about one in four men by age 55, and in half of 75-year-old men. However, treatment is only necessary if symptoms become bothersome. By age 80, some 20 to 30% of men experience BPH symptoms severe enough to require treatment. Surgery was the only option until the recent approval of drugs that can relieve symptoms either by shrinking the prostate or by relaxing the prostate muscle tissue that constricts the urethra.