The Difference Between Treating the Symptoms and the Cause

When we discuss treatments for BPH or enlarged prostate we tend to look at a very broad range of options and occasionally ignore one of the most important treatment considerations – does the treatment target the symptoms or the cause of the problem. This differentiation is a very important part of a patient’s discussion with their urologist.

At first glance, some medications such as alpha blockers and alternative therapies may seem like the easiest option. However, these therapies, proven or not, do not target the root cause of the problem, which is the physical enlargement of the prostate gland. Rather, they alleviate symptoms. Other medications such as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors work to reduce the size of the prostate, but only as long as the medication is being taken. The result is that patients will likely have to remain on their medication therapy for the rest of their lives. A further and very common frustration with many medications is that their effectiveness may decrease over time, either requiring a higher dosage or an alternate therapy.1 Finally, and most disturbingly, many medications have bothersome side effects that can interfere with everyday life and pose significant sexual side effects.

Minimally invasive, in-office therapies actually target the root problem of the discomfort – the enlarged prostate. By destroying excess prostate tissue, the one-time treatment often remains effective for years to come.2,3 Patients have several of these longer-term effective options to choose from including the market leading procedures Cooled ThermoTherapyTM and Prostiva® RF Therapy

Of course, every patient’s circumstance is different and only a conversation with their urologist can determine the best course of action for their unique situation. However, when speaking to a urologist, a patient or their loved ones should understand the long-term effects of the proposed treatment – specifically, whether it only manages the symptoms of the condition instead of addressing the root cause of the problem. Please use our Urologist Finder to locate a qualified professional in your area.

1 Wei, et al, High Rates for Continued BPH Medical Therapy among Non responders, AUA2010 Abstract 498
2 Mynderse LA, Roehrborn CG, et al. Results of a 5-Year Multicenter Trial of a New Generation Cooled High Energy Transurethral Microwave Thermal Therapy Catheter for BPH. Journal of Urology. Vol. 185, 1804-1811, May 2011
3 Hill, B., et al Transurethral Needle Ablation vs TURP for the Treatment of Symptomatic BPH: 5 Year Results of a Prospective, Randomized, Multicenter Clinical Trial, Journal of Urology Vol 171, 2336-2340, June 2004