Some conditions affect the prostate gland negatively, with most of these conditions tending to be present among the older male population. Among these, an enlarged prostate is considered the most common.
BPH is not a life-threatening disease, like prostate cancer. Yet, it can still be a worrisome condition for a man to suffer from. Studies reported by the age of 90 up to 80% of men might experience an enlarged prostate1.
One thing that a lot of men overlook is that there are two types of conditions that cause an enlarged prostate. Both conditions are called BPH for short. The two conditions include benign prostatic hyperplasia and benign prostatic hypertrophy.
While similarities exist between the two, there are also some differences. We look at hypertrophy vs. hyperplasia in this post. This allows men to have a better idea of what causes their prostate enlargement. It also provides a sign of the most appropriate treatment to reduce the size of prostate tissue.
What Is Hypertrophy?
Benign prostatic hypertrophy refers to a condition that causes the prostate gland to become enlarged. Hypertrophy is a term that refers to an increase in an organ or tissue’s volume. This is what happens with benign prostatic hypertrophy. The size of the prostate gland’s tissue becomes increased.
It is essential to understand the reasons behind hypertrophy. This gives a man a better view of why they might have developed the condition.
Fat accumulation is not linked to benign prostatic hypertrophy. Obese men have a higher risk of an enlarged prostate. The excess fat does accumulate in the prostate gland, though. The accumulation of fat is not what causes the prostate gland to become enlarged.
Cell proliferation also holds no direct link to benign prostatic hypertrophy.
The condition is classified by an increase in the demand placed on prostate cells. Both physiological and pathological hypertrophy can affect the prostate gland. Permanent cells are generally affected by hypertrophy.
Cells become enlarged when a patient is diagnosed with benign prostatic hypertrophy. This means cells in the prostate has started to become larger than they should be. The condition is not caused by too many cells being present in the prostate gland.
When cells become more abundant, the prostate gland itself will start to become enlarged. When the prostate becomes enlarged, it pushes against the urethra. The male patient is likely to begin experiencing certain lower urinary tract symptoms2.
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What Is Hyperplasia?
Prostate enlargement is most often referred to as benign prostatic hyperplasia. This is the other type of condition that tends to affect male patients. It also causes lower urinary tract symptoms.
There are similarities between hyperplasia and hypertrophy. It is the differences that men should also take note of.
With hyperplasia, the cells that make up the prostate tissue do not become enlarged. Instead, there is an increase in the number of cells found in the prostate gland. As the number of cells increases, there is an enlargement in the prostates volume too.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia affects the lower urinary tract. This can cause lower urinary symptoms in the patient. Lower urinary tract symptoms are prevalent in men with this type of enlarged prostate condition.
This is the more common condition that tends to affect the prostate gland too. A lot of men who develop an enlarged prostate gland will be diagnosed with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
What Are The Differences Between Hypertrophy And Hyperplasia?
Several similarities appear with both of these conditions. This makes an accurate diagnosis often more complicated.
One study describes the symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia. Symptoms fall into the categories of either irritative or obstructive. These symptoms tend to include3:
- Obstructive symptoms include urinary hesitancy and prolonged voiding. Straining during urination and a weak stream are also possible.
- Irritative symptoms tend to include nocturia, an increase in urinary frequency, and a constant urge to urinate.
Before considering the difference between the conditions, it is crucial to consider the similarities. The above symptoms are generally linked to benign prostatic hyperplasia. Men need to understand that the same symptoms can occur with benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Primary Differences Between These Conditions
Similarities make it harder to know which conditions the man has. There are significant differences that can be used as part of the diagnostic protocol. The main reason for identifying the differences is due to the various treatment options available.
The main difference between the two conditions lies with the underlying mechanism of action. This is the mechanism that causes the prostate to become enlarged.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia refers to an increase in the number of cells that make up the prostate gland. The condition leads to cells dividing at a more rapid rate. This leads to an excess of prostate cells in the gland. The gland expands in size as more cells make up its tissue.
With benign prostatic hypertrophy, there is no increase in the number of cells in the patient’s prostate gland. Thus, no acceleration in the cellular division is detectable in patients with hypertrophy of the prostate gland. Instead, the individual cells already present in the prostate gland become larger than they are meant to be.
Both of these conditions cause an enlargement of the prostate gland. The conditions both cause the gland to push against the urethra, which can cause a restriction in urine flow. Several other complications can also develop. These can affect the lower urinary system in the male patient’s body.
Treatment Options For Hypertrophy Vs. Hyperplasia
Differences exist in the underlying factors related to these conditions. The initial treatments are often quite similar, though. A doctor will often detect BPH during a regular check-up with the male patient. A digital rectal exam is most often used as a primary detection tool.
The physician may feel an abnormality affecting the prostate gland. A digital rectal exam provides the best position for the physician to feel these abnormalities.
Most physicians will prefer more tests when an abnormality is detected. Both BPH and prostate cancer can cause the gland to become larger. With prostate cancer, inflammation tends to affect the gland. There is also an abnormal growth of prostate cells. With prostate cancer, however, the effects are not considered benign.
Tests can be performed to detect PSA levels in the male patient.
Men may also be advised that they should undergo a transrectal ultrasound test. During this test, a small ultrasound tool is inserted into the patient’s rectum. This allows for an image to be generated, showing the patient’s prostate gland.
When an enlarged prostate has been confirmed to be caused by BPH, appropriate treatment can follow.
There are many treatments for an enlarged prostate.
The usefulness of each treatment for BPH depends on the severity of symptoms and whether you have other medical problems.
Treatment is also based on your age and overall health condition.
Drugs are the conventional treatment for an enlarged prostate. Different Types of BPH drugs include:
- Tamsulosin (Flomax)
- Alfuzosin (Uroxatral)
- Doxazosin (Cardura)
- Prazosin (Minipress)
- Silodosin (Rapaflo)
- Terazosin (Hytrin)
- 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors
- Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)
- Dutasteride (Avodart)
- Phosphodiesterase-5 Inhibitors
- Tadalafil (Cialis)
Alpha-blockers like Tamsulosin (Flomax) block the action of the sympathetic nervous system and relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder neck.
However, they can come with many negative side effects and cause long-term dependency.
Surgery for BPH
Along with drugs, surgical procedures are also performed to treat enlarged prostates.
The problem with almost all of these invasive procedures used to treat BPH is that they damage the prostate and, therefore, cause short or even long-term consequences.
The only difference between them is that they use different technologies, but it doesn’t matter how you damage the prostate, it was damage either way.
Before undergoing surgery, carry out extensive research and consult your Doctor on the after-effects and impact on the quality of life.
Some physicians will start with a procedure called Transurethral Microwave Thermotherapy. This technique uses high-intensity microwaves to treat the enlarged prostate. The microwaves will be targeted at the area of the prostate that causes a constriction in the urethra. This may help to ease up lower urinary tract symptoms the man experience.
There are also certain natural remedies for BPH that patients can use to alleviate symptoms and possibly even reduce prostate volume without the need for pharmaceutical chemicals. The safety profile is usually much more favorable compared to pharmaceutical options. Examples include:
Two conditions can cause prostate enlargement. This includes benign prostatic hyperplasia and hypertrophy. Both conditions cause the prostate gland to push against the bladder neck. Symptoms are also similar, including a weak urine flow and other symptoms with the urinary tract. We considered the primary differences between the two conditions in this post.