Prostate cancer symptoms are rarely apparent in the early stages of the disease. For this reason, it is important to make sure that you discuss routine screenings with your doctor. For men with one or more of the risk factors associated with prostate cancer, this is especially important. Screenings for prostate cancer have a reputation for being intrusive, but with current technological developments, this is not necessarily the case.
Age is the biggest risk factor associated with prostate cancer, and you should consider routine exams once you hit 50. Only one in 10,000 men under 40 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, compared to one in 15 men over 60. A fatty diet and obesity are also associated with higher risks of prostate cancer, with the other big risk factor being a family history of the disease.
Early stages of prostate cancer symptoms
Early symptoms of prostate cancer are often related to urinary problems, although these symptoms only manifest themselves once the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra. As already mentioned, signs of prostate cancer are rarely apparent in the very early stages of the disease, so check ups are important. As with all cancers, the earlier treatment begins, the greater the chance that treatment will be effective.
The urinary symptoms of prostate cancer include burning or pain during urination and difficulty urinating. You might frequently wake in the night, feeling as if you have to urinate, and then not be able to pass water. You might also need to urinate more often, feel as if your bladder has not emptied, or experience loss of bladder control. More rarely, you might see blood in your urine or semen. All or one of these symptoms might occur, and they tend to get worse as the prostate grows larger.
Nowadays prostate cancer treatment is very effective, and most men who are diagnosed at this early, local stage will be disease-free after five years. However, prostate cancer is still a deadly disease, and it is important to visit your doctor as soon as you detect the first symptoms of prostate cancer.
What else can cause these symptoms?
As with most signs of cancer, there are other diseases that might be responsible for these symptoms.
The prostate is located very near to the bladder, and an enlarged prostate can press on the urethra, causing all the problems cited above. An enlarged urethra needn’t be caused by cancerous growth. In fact, as men get older, it is quite normal for the prostate gland to enlarge. This is a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). An enlarged prostate doesn’t always turn into cancer, but a larger prostate might easily contain areas of cancer cells.
The symptoms of prostatitis, or non-cancerous inflammation of the prostate gland, are very similar to the symptoms and signs of prostate cancer. However, in both cases, a trip to the doctor is necessary. It is also dangerous to assume that symptoms are benign. Always have these things checked out, if only for your peace of mind.
Advanced prostate cancer symptoms and signs
Prostate cancer might spread, or metastasize, to nearby tissue or bone. The disease is still treatable at this stage, but these symptoms are signs that the cancer is at a more aggressive stage.
For a small number of men, the first signs of prostate cancer might be pain in the back, hips or legs. This is because prostate cancer can spread to the spine and bones around your prostate. There are many other reasons for experiencing these symptoms, but if you experience bone pain, it is important to visit your doctor.
You might also experience swelling in the legs or pelvic area, or numbness in the pelvis, legs or feet. Painful ejaculation, blood in the semen, or erectile dysfunction can also be symptoms of prostate cancer.
Loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, or pain in the testicles are other, less frequent symptoms of prostate cancer.
Again, many of these signs and symptoms may not be related to prostate cancer, but it is always worth checking them out. Prostate cancer is very treatable in its early stages, but there is always a great deal of risk associated with ignoring an aggressive disease like cancer.