Prostate Cancer Symptoms & Signs
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Video: How Prostate Cancer DevelopsLearn more about prostate cancer, including how and where it develops, from this medical animation.
How Prostate Cancer Develops
Watch a medical animation that illustrates where the prostate is located, its function in the male reproductive system, and how cancer can form as small nodules on its surface.
What are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
In most cases, prostate cancer symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms of prostate cancer may be different for each man and any one of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions. As a result, routine screenings in the form of digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate specific androgen (PSA) tests are important.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer, beginning at age 50. Men with one or more risk factors for prostate cancer should consult with their physician about whether to start routine screening earlier.
Urinary Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Because of the proximity of the prostate gland in relation to the bladder and urethra, prostate cancer may be accompanied by a variety of urinary symptoms. Depending on the size and location, a tumor may press on and constrict the urethra, inhibiting the flow of urine. Some prostate cancer signs related to urination include:
- Burning or pain during urination
- Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating
- More frequent urges to urinate at night
- Loss of bladder control
- Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream
- Blood in urine (hematuria)
Other Prostate Cancer Signs & Symptoms
Prostate cancer may spread (metastasize) to nearby tissues or bones. If the cancer spreads to the spine, it may press on the spinal nerves. Other prostate cancer symptoms include:
- Blood in semen
- Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Painful ejaculation
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
- Bone pain that doesn't go away, or leads to fractures
Testing and Screening for Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer screenings make it possible to detect the cancer in early stages, before symptoms are present.
Current screening methods include a simple blood test for the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a digital rectal exam (DRE) of the prostate. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other federal agencies follow the prostate cancer screening guidelines set forth by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which state that there is insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening for prostate cancer using PSA or DRE.
Most men over 50 are advised to talk with their doctor about the pros and cons of annual prostate cancer screening. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, or other factors that may put an individual at an increased risk for the disease, the conversation should begin earlier (starting at age 40 or 45).
Although screening methods are not 100 percent accurate, these tests are often an effective method for detecting prostate cancer in the early stages, when it is still highly treatable. Talk with your doctor about whether or not prostate cancer screening is right for you.
NOTE: These symptoms may be the result of a number of conditions other than cancer. It is important to consult with a medical professional for an accurate diagnosis.
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