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How to identify the symptoms of prostate cancer

Developing prostate problems is regarded by many men in the US as just one more issue relating to aging. There is plenty of evidence to confirm that view. One prostate study found that over 90% of men who reached the age of 80 developed prostate problems of one kind or another. However, while an enlarged prostate, though uncomfortable, is not life-threatening, another prostate issue, prostate cancer, certainly can be.

Research carried out by the Prostate Cancer Foundation found that around three million men have prostate cancer in the US. It is the most common non-skin-related cancer in men and the second deadliest in terms of mortality, after lung cancer.

As experts around the world, including US medical specialists of the caliber of Erol Onel, work to find new methods of identifying and treating this disease, the most effective method of spotting prostate cancer remains early identification through screening.

This is because, unlike a number of other cancers, cancer of the prostate can be treated and cured if it is spotted early on. It is for this reason that men should not be passive in their approach to the risks, and are encouraged to consult a physician, who will be able to draw up an appropriate screening plan, taking into account the most significant risk factors.

Medical experts will also point out that there is no adequate alternative to screening in terms of identifying with accuracy the presence of prostate cancer, as it often doesn’t produce distinct symptoms. Nevertheless, there are some symptoms that can indicate that more detailed screening should be carried out.

Familiar prostate cancer symptoms

As the prostate gland is situated close to both the bladder and urethra, one of the symptoms of prostate cancer can be the development or a range of urinary problems. Depending on its size, it is possible for a prostate tumor to press against the urethra and thus prevent the natural flow of urine. Some of the more common examples of prostate cancer affecting the urinary system are listed below:

  • A sensation of pain or burning during urination
  • Difficulty associated with starting or stopping urination
  • An increase in the nocturnal urge to urinate
  • General or unspecified loss of control of the bladder
  • A reduction of either the velocity or the flow of the urine stream
  • The identification of blood in the urine (known as hematuria)

Other possible symptoms

There are a range of other symptoms that can indicate the presence of prostate cancer, and some of these symptoms can suggest that the cancer has spread or metastasized to other organs, tissues or bones, such as the spine, where it may lead to back pain. The other non-urinary symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Identification of blood in the semen
  • Difficulty in getting an erection, known as erectile dysfunction
  • A painful sensation during ejaculation
  • Noticeable swelling either in the leg or pelvic region
  • A sensation of pain or numbness in the feet, hips or legs
  • Significant bone pain that doesn’t fade

As mentioned above, it is important to remember that prostate cancer often doesn’t produce symptoms, particularly in the early stages of the disease, when it can be most effectively treated. In addition, the symptoms produced can vary from individual to individual, making it impossible to generalize. This is why physicians recommend regular routine screenings for men, which are usually digital rectal examinations or Prostate Specific Androgen (PSA) tests.  

The decision about when to undergo testing is one that can be reached following consultation between an individual and his doctor. For this reason, it is important that men don’t wait until they are over 50 before screening. In particular, those men with any of the risk factors for prostate cancer should speak to their doctor about the best time to start screening.

One of the most significant barriers to addressing persistent male health problems is the reluctance of many men to take their own health seriously. Awareness of the risks of prostate cancer can include an understanding of some of the most common symptoms, but more important is that men take a proactive approach and speak to their doctor in order to establish an individually tailored and fully effective prostate cancer screening plan.

Image: Vic

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