Prostate Diseases


Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

In most men, the prostate gland normally enlarges with age. This may be due to changes in sex hormone levels that occur with normal aging. In some men, the enlarged prostate causes few or no symptoms, while in others the symptoms can be very bothersome. It is not clear why some men develop symptoms and others do not. The severity of symptoms is not necessarily related to the how large the prostate has become. Men with a family history of BPH may be more likely to develop the disease. BPH does not increase your risk for prostate cancer.

The most common symptoms of BPH are:

  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination
  • Weak or interrupted urine stream
  • Leaking or dribbling of urine

Symptoms of BPH tend to gradually worsen over years, although in some men symptoms may stay the same, or even improve. Occasionally, BPH can cause urinary retention, which is the inability to empty the bladder. The symptoms of BPH can be caused by other conditions, so be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any symptoms you are having.

Urinary retention (inability to urinate) is a serious complication of severe BPH that requires immediate medical attention.


Acute prostatitis is usually caused by a bacterial infection. If the infection is not successfully treated, prostatitis can recur and become chronic prostatitis, which can be more difficult to treat. Prostatitis can also be caused by surgery or trauma that has damaged nerves in that area of the body. Many times, no cause of prostatitis is found. Prostatitis does not increase the risk for prostate cancer. Risk factors for prostatitis are:

  • Having a urinary tract or bladder infection
  • Having an injury to the pelvis
  • Having a urinary catheter (a tube inserted into the urethra to drain urine from the bladder)
  • Having a past episode of prostatitis
  • Having a prostate biopsy
  • Having HIV/AIDS

Symptoms of prostatitis may include:

  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Difficulty starting urination (hesitancy) or dribbling
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Urine that is cloudy (not clear), or blood in the urine
  • Pain in the abdomen, groin, or lower back
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Flu-like symptoms (more common if the cause is bacterial infection)

Prostate Cancer

The cause of prostate cancer is unknown.  It most likely includes both risk factors that are inherited, and those that are a result of lifestyle or environment. Some risk factors that have been identified include:

  • Older age.
  • Race. Black men are at higher risk for prostate cancer compared to men of other races. Black men are also more likely to have more aggressive forms of prostate cancer
  • Family history. A strong family history of prostate cancer in men or breast cancer in women can point to a higher risk of prostate cancer for you.
  • Obesity. Obese men tend to have more advanced disease, which makes it more difficult to treat.
  • Diet. A diet high in animal fats and low in vegetables may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer often causes no symptoms in the early stages. In more advanced disease, growth or spread of the cancer to other parts of the body may cause:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Weak urine stream
  • Difficulty with erections
  • Blood in the semen
  • Pain or discomfort in the pelvic area
  • Bone pain

Last Updated August 2020