Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, less commonly known as benign prostatic hypertrophy) is, essentially, an abnormal enlargement of the prostate gland. During a man’s life, the prostate goes through two different stages of growth. The first stage occurs during early puberty, when the prostate tissue doubles in size, while the second happens around age 25; this second growth stage is more gradual and goes on for almost all of a man’s life.
As a man grows older, two things happen to his prostate. First, the prostate gland itself enlarges and starts pressing against his urethra, potentially causing what is now as a narrow urethra, which restricts or slows the flow of urine. Second, the bladder walls grow thicker while the bladder itself weakens, making it harder for it to fully empty and leaving some urine inside. A narrow urethra and urine retention are, as you can imagine, two of the most common issues associated with BPH.
It’s important to note that, while the two can occur at the same time, benign prostatic hyperplasia is not cancer, and it alone does not cause or lead to cancer.