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James Buchanan 'Diamond Jim' Brady, a BPH sufferer, bestowed the gift that helped found the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute at Johns Hopkins. Photo courtesy of James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute.

seamless cutting-to-coagulating surgery. New York City's Joseph F. McCarthy fashioned a lens system, with ACMI, that widened the visual field considerably. He also used a bakelite sheath and moved the cutting window to the tip of the instrument, leading modern Stern-McCarthy resectoscopes.

But such innovations weren't the only advances in BPH treatment. By the 1990s doctors had added drugs to their arsenal. "Alpha adrenergic blockers,"such as tamsulosin, impede prostate and bladder muscle tension to promote better urination. Androgen suppressors, such as finasteride, shrink the prostate by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, a player in BPH.

But these drugs have drawbacks. They aren't cure-alls. Yet, until scientists can prevent BPH by finding its cause, doctors are left to attack its symptoms. Fortunately, with increasingly elegant treatments, today's sufferers can hang up their bowler hats and save their walking sticks and umbrellas for strolling in the rain.

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