Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is the medical term for an enlarged prostate. The good news – it’s not cancer. The bad news – you are likely to experience symptoms such as trouble urinating, needing to urinate frequently, dribbling after urination ends, or the sensation of your bladder being full even when it is empty. Fortunately there are several options available to treat an enlarged prostate, so you should not have to suffer with these symptoms. Here is an overview of the four main treatment options for an enlarged prostate:
Watchful Waiting / Active Surveillance
This treatment is for patient who is either symptom free, or is not bothered by the mild symptoms of his enlarged prostate. Though the patient is monitored closely by his physician with active surveillance, he attempts to control his symptoms through changes in diet or medications, and doesn’t receive any active treatment.
Medical Therapies or Drugs Used to Treat an Enlarged Prostate
The drugs used in treating an enlarged prostate generally fall into two general categories. The first category includes the alpha blockers, which work by relaxing the smooth muscle of the prostate and bladder to improve urine flow and reduce bladder outlet obstruction. Some common alpha blockers include alfuzosin, terazosin, doxazosin and tamsulosin. These drugs can be taken orally once or twice a day, and relieve symptoms almost immediately. However, alpha blockers do not actually reduce the size of the prostate.
The second category of drugs used to treat an enlarged prostate are known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. The two most common drugs in this category are finasteride and dutasteride. These medications can be taken orally, relieve symptoms quickly, and actually shrink the size of the prostate. 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors are typically recommended for men with relatively large prostate glands. Your urologist can speak with you about the pros, cons, and potential side effects for each medical therapy option.
Minimally Invasive Therapies for Enlarged Prostate
There are several minimally invasive outpatient procedures to treat an enlarged prostate. The transurethral needle ablation of the prostate, also known as “TUNA” utilizes a cystoscope-like device, which is inserted into the prostate to emit a low-level frequency radio waves. These waves create heat which kills the prostate tissue, reducing the size of the prostate and alleviating symptoms.
The transurethral microwave thermotherapy, known as “TUMT” is another minimally invasive treatment. This option is similar to “TUNA” but uses high-frequency radio waves to kill the prostate tissue.
Surgical Treatment Options for Enlarged Prostate
There are many surgical treatment options for an enlarged prostate. Since surgery is the most invasive approach to treatment, it is typically reserved for patients with moderate to severe symptoms. Two of the most common surgeries include the transurethral resection of the prostate and open prostatectomy.
With a wide array of treatment options available, the next step is to discuss the potential benefits and side effects of each treatment option with your urologist. Then, based on your degree of symptoms and the size of your prostate, you and your urologist can determine the best course of action.