One of the most asked questions by men who have BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) is, Does having BPH increase my chances of getting prostate cancer? Given that more than 6 million men in the United States have BPH, this is a question on the minds of a great number of men.
But although a new study found that men with BPH were two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer, the authors emphasized this does not mean BPH causes or is a risk factor for cancer. Instead, they noted there may be risk factors common to both BPH and prostate cancer that increase a man’s chances of developing both conditions.
Whether this explanation is any consolation to men who have BPH is questionable. But here are some specifics concerning the study.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen evaluated data collected between 1980 and 2006 from 3,009,258 Danish men. The analysis showed that men who had BPH (254,289) were two to three times more likely to develop prostate cancer (53,315 cases diagnosed) than men without an enlarged prostate. The men who got prostate cancer also had a two- to eightfold increased risk of dying from prostate cancer.
The investigators also noted that the risk of developing prostate cancer was higher from 1995 to 2006, which is when prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing was introduced. Therefore BPH may increase a man’s chances of having a positive PSA test for prostate cancer, even though it’s been shown that in most cases, men who have an elevated PSA level do not have prostate cancer.
So what can you take away from this study? Again, the authors stress their findings “should not be used to infer causality.” However, just to be on the safe side, if you have BPH, be vigilant about prostate cancer and have regular PSA testing.
Orsted DD et al. Association of clinical benign prostate hyperplasia with prostate cancer incidence and mortality revisited: A nationwide cohort study of 3,009,258 men. European Urology 2011 Oct; 60(4):691-98