Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Prostate cancer - diagnosis written on a white piece of paper. Syringe and vaccine with drugs.

Prostate cancer is a type of cancer which is only found in men, and is completely treatable if detected early enough. That is why it is extra important to look out for prostate cancer symptoms and go to a doctor if you suspect anything.

Early Stages of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer tends not to have any signs or symptoms in its early stages. Only a PSA or DRE test can indicate that a cancer may be present, and if it does, more tests need to be run to confirm it.

PSA is a protein which the prostate produces. It is usually produced in very small amounts (4ng/mL), but if there is something wrong with the prostate, it will tend to produce more and more of the protein (10ng/mL or even more). A PSA Test will be able to detect whether the level of it is normal or not by drawing blood from the arm. If it is not, more tests should be run to see if it in fact is due to prostate cancer.

A DRE (Digital Rectal Exam) consists of a physician (usually a urologist) inserting a gloved finger into the rectum and feeling for any physical irregularities. It helps to tell the difference between cancerous and non-cancerous changes.

The recommended age to have one’s first PSA / DRE test is between the ages of 40 and 50.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Symptoms of prostate cancer start to appear in the later stages of the disease.

Prostate cancer symptoms include:

  • frequent urination, especially at night,
  • difficulty to start or hold urine,
  • weak flow of urine,
  • painful urination,
  • blood in urine and/or semen,
  • erectile dysfunction,
  • pressure or pain in the rectum (due to an enlarged prostate) especially when sitting down.

If the cancer spreads outside of the prostate gland, the following symptoms may be observed:

  • back, hip, shoulder, pelvis, or thigh pain,
  • fatigue,
  • weight loss,
  • change in bowel habits,
  • fluid buildup in the legs or feet.

Author: Julia Kubiak

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