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BPH linked to higher risk of prostate cancer: Study caution urged

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Men who are hospitalized for enlarged prostate, known as benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH were found to be at higher risk for developing and dying from prostate cancer in a European study. According to the researchers, the study shows a link, but should also be interpreted with caution.

The finding comes from a study of a database of men in Denmark who were also found to have twice the risk of dying from prostate cancer if they were hospitalized for enlarged prostate from hyperplasia – a condition that causes the number of prostate cells to increase, leading to enlargement of the gland.

Researchers, who presented their findings at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Conference, formerly known as the Congress of the European Cancer Organizations and Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ECCO-ESMO), used information taken from a national health database in Denmark to find the association between BPH and prostate cancer.

Eight times the risk of dying from prostate cancer from BPH

According to Stig Bojesen, MD, of Copenhagen University Hospital, Herlev, Denmark, in addition to finding men hospitalized for treatment of BPH had double the chance of developing prostate cancer:

"We found that if the men underwent surgery for [BPH], the risk of prostate cancer death was increased nearly 8 times that of the general population."

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The researchers compared 187,591 men who were hospitalized for BPH to 2,770,300 men in the general population. During the study, which took place from 1980 to 2006, 16,212 men who were hospitalized for treatment later developed prostate cancer.

Of the general population, 35,139 men later developed prostate cancer, Bojesen reported.

The scientists say the finding doesn’t mean men hospitalized for BPH or enlargement of the prostate indicates a man will develop prostate cancer. Most studies have not shown a direct link between BPH and increased risk of the disease.

"About 70% of all men over age 70 have [BPH]," Bojesen said. "We do see an association, but we don't know if it is causal. There might be some other explanation. It might be that both conditions – [BPH] and prostate cancer – might be stimulated by a third factor."

The study might suggest clinicians should remain vigilant about screening men hospitalized for benign prostatic hyperplasia, but no new recommendations have been issued as a result of the finding.

The European study does not show BPH causes prostate cancer; only that there is an association between enlarged prostate and risk of developing or dying from the disease. The finding should be interpreted with caution according to Joaquim Bellmunt, MD, from the Valle d'Hebron University Hospital, Barcelona, Spain, who chaired the ECCO-ESSMO session.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Author: Etan J. Tal