Prostate cancer can be difficult to diagnose at an early stage based solely on symptoms, as there are very few that are truly indicative of the disease. Early symptoms are not caused by the cancer itself, but rather tumor growth pressing against the prostate and surrounding organs. It’s important to keep in mind that early symptoms can also be indicative of a benign tumor or a urinary tract infection (UTI).
As a precaution, check with your doctor if you present one or more of the following symptoms:
- Frequent urge to urinate, particularly at night
- Difficulty initiating urination
- Painful burning sensation during urination
- Pain during ejaculation
- Lack of sufficient urinary pressure
- Bloody urine or semen
- Inability to stop urination mid-stream
- Lack of urinary control when coughing or laughing
If prostate cancer is caught early, affected men maintain very high survival rates with treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, men with local prostate cancer (confined to the prostate) have nearly a 100% chance of survival, as shown by studies for up to 15 years after diagnosis. Likewise, survival rates stick near 100% for at least five years in regional cancer (only spreading to the surrounding areas) as well.
More advanced prostate cancer presents a more severe set of symptoms. Especially in conjunction with the above symptoms, contact your doctor immediately if you’re experiencing the following conditions:
- Nausea, vomiting, and/or fatigue
- Decreased appetite resulting in weight loss
- Pain in the mid-section, including the ribs, lower back, pelvis, and/or upper thighs
- Deep bone pain in the areas listed above
- Lower extremity swelling
- Weakness in the lower half of the body, resulting in difficulty walking and often constipation
As prostate cancer becomes increasingly common in men as they age, regular screenings are key for early detection in middle-aged men. Starting at age 50, all men should undergo annual rectal exams and blood testing. African American men or individuals with a strong family history (a.k.a. high risk patients) should begin regular exams by age 40.
Prostate cancer is absolutely manageable for men who get informed about the disease and take control of their health as they age.
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