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King Charles to Undergo Common, Safe Prostate Surgery
  • Posted January 19, 2024

King Charles to Undergo Common, Safe Prostate Surgery

Britain's King Charles III is expected undergo surgery next week to correct an enlarged prostate, and experts say these procedures are common in older men and safe.

The king, 75, has what's clinically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).

"An enlarged prostate means the gland has grown bigger. Prostate enlargement happens to almost all men as they get older," noted Dr. Ravi Munver, vice chair of urology at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.Y.

The prostate is located between the pelvis and the bladder, and as it grows in size it can put pressure on the bladder and urethra, Munver explained.

He stressed that BPH is not a cancer, and it will not raise a man's odds for cancer. It is, however, an annoying condition for many older men.

"An enlarged prostate can cause symptoms that may be a bother such as blocking the flow of urine out of the bladder," Munver explained. That can mean trouble initiating urination, too frequent urination or difficulties fully emptying the bladder.

"It also can cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems. In some cases, it can be treated with medication; [in] other instances, surgery is needed, depending on the size of the prostate," he said.

Dr. Justin Friedlander is professor of urology and urologic oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

He said there are a number of signs that surgery might be the best course of treatment for an enlarged prostate. Besides trouble with urination, they include "repeated urinary tract infections, formation of bladder stones, persistent or recurrent blood in the urine due to bleeding from the prostate, [and] swelling of the kidneys," Friedlander said.

As to the type of surgery men might undergo, that decision is usually "individualized to the patient's medication conditions," he said.

"There are several types of surgery that can be performed for an enlarged prostate, including using a laser or water ablation," Munver said. "It is not clear what type of surgery King Charles is having."

According to the Cleveland Clinic, some of the most common BPH surgeries include:

  • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP). This procedure uses a laser light or electric current to cut away excess prostate tissue. It's done under anesthesia, and a special tool is inserted into the urethra to help the surgeon see and remove tissue.

  • Transurethral incision of the prostate (TUIP). The urologist makes two small incisions into the prostate and where your urethra and bladder join (bladder neck). This widens the urethra and improves the flow of urine from the bladder.

  • Transurethal evaporization. In this procedure, a urologist uses a heated electrode to target the enlarged area of the prostate, effectively turning excess cells into steam. A similar procedure is also performed using a laser instead of electrodes.

All of these procedures allow the patient to resume normal activities within a few days, the Cleveland Clinic said.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace said, "His Majesty was keen to share the details of his diagnosis to encourage other men who may be experiencing symptoms to get checked in line with public health advice."

More information:

There's more on enlarged prostate at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

SOURCES: Justin Friedlander, MD, professor, urology/urologic oncology, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; Ravi Munver, MD, vice chair, department of urology, Hackensack University Medical Center, and division director, Minimally Invasive & Robotic Urologic Surgery

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