A collaborative international research team from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the University Medical College in Taiwan led by Michael Chancellor, MD, found injections of botulinum toxin A, or Botox, into the prostate gland of men with enlarged prostate, eased symptoms and improved quality of life up to a year after the procedure.
"Many men have enlarged prostate," noted Dr. Chancellor. "They take pills, but sometimes they don't work, or sometimes they have side effects, and they're afraid of surgery. So now, Botox has been shown to be safe and effective, and a single office injection, which takes about 5 minutes, can achieve success for one entire year. So, it's a new and very exciting alternative that is something between standard drugs and surgery."
During this year’s annual meeting of the American Urological Association, the results of this effort were presented. The small study revealed that about 75 percent of men suffering from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) experienced partial symptom relief following the treatment.
According to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse, BPH usually occurs among men over the age of 50. More than half of all men over the age of 60 develop BPH. This figure rises to 80 percent by the age of 80.
Between 40 percent and 50 percent of BPH patients acquire a loss of bladder control as the growing prostate squeezes against the urethra, the passage through which urine flows.
Accompanying symptoms include a frequent need to urinate (often at night), trouble urinating (even when feeling the urge), blood in the urine, and urinary tract infections. In severe cases, bladder and kidney damage can result.
Once identified, patients with mild BPH may choose to do without treatment. However, those with more serious symptoms are often prescribed medications to shrink or relax the gland to relieve bladder blockage. When that fails, the prostate can be reduced or removed via laser or microwave techniques, or invasive surgery.
Chancellor’s team found that nearly three-quarters of the patients experienced a 30 percent improvement in their symptoms for up to a year following the injection. None of the patients experienced significant side effects, such as erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence.
A new worldwide study is under way to explore Botox's potential against BPH.