Previous studies unclear on relationship between BPH and cancer risk
A team of Beaumont Health researchers from Radiology, Radiation Oncology and Urology studied the relationship between benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH, and prostate cancer in 405 men by quantitatively looking at different parts of prostate tissue on MRI.
“People often confuse an enlarged prostate gland with cancer given their symptoms and believe increased size is due to abnormal growth,” said researcher Dr. Kiran Nandalur, vice chief of Diagnostic Radiology and Molecular Imaging, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. “On the contrary, our research showed patients with an enlarged prostate appear to have lower odds of significant prostate cancer.”
The findings were recently published in The Prostate, a peer-reviewed medical journal: “Benign prostate hyperplasia as a potential protective factor against prostate cancer: Insights from a magnetic resonance imaging study of compositional characteristics.”
Explained Dr. Nandalur, “Prostate MRI, which is noninvasive imaging without radiation, is a powerful radiology test to look at the different anatomy of the prostate, specifically differentiating the central and outer aspects of the prostate gland, and also for underlying cancer.”
BPH is very common and often considered a nuisance of aging as many men have uncomfortable urinary symptoms such as the frequent need to urinate, often at night, or weak flow of urine. This is because the central part of the prostate enlarges with time from BPH and can obstruct urine leaving the bladder. Men often experience these symptoms and are concerned they have an underlying abnormality.
The greatest fear is prostate cancer, which is the second most common cancer among men. When patients are told their symptoms are likely from an enlarged prostate from BPH, which is benign, they often still have anxiety whether this condition may increase their chances of cancer.
“Previous studies are unclear whether BPH increases, decreases, or has no effect on prostate cancer risk,” said Dr. Nandalur. “Our findings should help reduce possible fears about significant prostate cancer when diagnosed with BPH, which is often misunderstood by the public. According to the studied MRI data, patients with BPH appear to have a potential protective factor against prostate cancer. The results may also explain why previous data has shown commonly prescribed drugs used to treat BPH may result in higher grade prostate cancer. However, individualized management of a patient’s BPH is best determined after consultation with their physician.”