Purpose: According to a 1944 publication by Swyer benign prostatic hyperplasia develops in some men after age 45 with further prostatic growth whereas in other men prostate size remains stable or decreases with advancing age. Although there is an abundance of literature describing prostatic enlargement in association with benign prostatic hyperplasia, less is known about the phenomenon of prostate atrophy.
Materials and methods: In the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging serial pelvic magnetic resonance imaging was performed in men without prostate cancer beginning in 1993. From this population we retrospectively identified 278 men with 2 or more magnetic resonance imaging determined prostate volume measurements to examine differential growth rates in a cohort of community men over time.
Results: Median age was 58 years and median prostate size was 28 cc at study entry. At a median followup of 4.3 years prostate size increased in 61.9% and remained stable or decreased in 38.1% of men. The median rate of volume change was 0.6 cc per year (range -9.9 to 62.1), corresponding to a median growth rate of 2.5% per year (range -29.2 to 176.4%). During followup 64.6% of men with an initial prostate size less than 40 cc had prostate growth compared to only 50.9% of men with an initial prostate size of 40 cc or greater.
Conclusions: These results suggest that changes in prostate size are highly variable among aging men. Although benign prostatic hyperplasia is common, a considerable proportion of aging men have a stable or decreasing prostate size. Further research is needed to identify the underlying mechanism for such differences in prostate growth.