Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer
If you are a male (especially if you are over 50) and you aren’t having regular prostate exams, you should be. Prostate cancer is a serious but usually treatable illness that affects only males, generally in their early 50s to late 70s. Just like in other types of cancer, prostate cancer consists of rapidly spreading cellular tissue that forms tumors and affects the function of organs. When caught early, though, treatment is easy and effective. If you notice any unusual symptoms involving your prostate gland area or urinary tract, you may want to see your doctor as these could be early warning signs. Some specific symptoms are often linked to prostate cancer and the risk factors of ignoring early warning signs and not going for regular checkups are great.
Who Is Affected by Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer can affect any male person, but some factors may put you at a higher risk. You may be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer if:
- You are over the age of fifty.
- Prostate cancer or other types of cancer is prevalent in your family history.
- You are an African-American male. African-American men are at a higher risk for prostate cancer than men of other races.
- You eat a high-fat diet or your diet lacks vitamins from fruits and vegetables.
Signs and Symptoms
The signs and symptoms of prostate cancer vary, but some of them include:
- A frequent urge to urinate or inability to hold your bladder.
- Waking up frequently during the night to urinate.
- Blood in your urine
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in your semen
- Inability to urinate or slow flow or dribbling when urinating.
- Pain in lower back, hips, or pelvic region that persists.
These symptoms could all be signs of cancer in the prostate gland or other prostate issues. However, prostate cancer does not immediately show symptoms and could be a silent disease for a while. This is why it is so important to get regular men’s health checkups and have your prostate examined. Prostate cancer is more easily and efficiently treated when caught in the early stages.
If you experience any or a combination of these symptoms, you should talk to your doctor immediately. They may want to do a physical exam and blood exams to determine the health of your prostate. Physical exams may include your doctor using a gloved finger to feel the prostate for abnormalities and hard lumps, which can be a sign of cancer or other serious prostate-related illnesses. If they find a reason for concern, further testing may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis. There are several methods that may be used to diagnose prostate cancer. The most common, and perhaps most effective, is a prostate biopsy.
Treatments for Prostate Cancer
Cancer progresses differently for each person and your treatment methods will be determined by the progression of your prostate cancer. Your doctor will first determine whether cancer affects part of or all of the prostate or whether it has spread to other parts of the body. Your optimal treatment will also vary based on your age and overall health. Your doctor will discuss treatment methods with you and help you determine which method is best for you.
If the cancer is confined to your prostate, some of these treatment methods include:
- Active Surveillance: If you and your doctor determine that the cancer is spreading slowly and not causing any serious threat then you may decide to just keep an eye on it for a while before deciding to take action. This may involve regular office visits including prostate exams, blood work, and imaging exams. Your doctor may also discuss with you ways that you can change or improve your diet and lifestyle that may have an effect on the cancer cells.
- Surgical Removal: In cases where the cancer is threatening or causing you discomfort and affects most of or all of the prostate, you and your doctor may decide to surgically remove your prostate, a procedure called a radical prostatectomy. This sometimes also involves removing a small amount of the surrounding tissue as well. As with most surgical procedures, there are certain risks associated with a radical prostatectomy as well as a healing period post-operation, all of which your doctor should discuss with you. This is, however, the most common form of treatment for prostate cancer.
- Radiation Therapy: Another popular form of treatment for cancer, including prostate cancer, is radiation therapy, which uses radiation technology to shrink the cells and eliminate cancer. The radiation may come from a machine, like an x-ray machine or be placed directly inside the body near the problem area. Your doctor should inform you about certain side effects and associated risks.
- Hormone therapy: Hormone therapy for prostate cancer is often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, and is used to stop the body from producing testosterone. This is a method of prevention in cases where the cancer is likely to come back, as well as an aid to other forms of treatment. There are a number of mild side effects associated with hormone therapy, and your doctor should be happy to address them with you.
Treatment options for cancer that has spread to other parts of the body may be similar but on a larger scale basis. Other treatments may include chemotherapy or targeted therapy. Because different treatments will require different lifestyle changes and have different recovery times, you and your doctor will need to thoroughly discuss each option before choosing the one that is best for you. Your doctor may also suggest certain diet changes to reduce the symptoms and spreading of your prostate cancer.
Facts about Your Prostate and Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is serious and should be treated quickly. If your doctor has a reason for concern about your prostate, talk with your doctor to determine the appropriate path for testing. If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, you and your doctor should determine the seriousness of the situation before deciding how to treat it.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate for localized prostate cancer, or cancer that has not spread from the prostate area, is 100%. Once cancer has metastasized, though, the survival rate begins to decrease rapidly, which is why it is so important to have regular checkups and prostate screenings. While metastasized, or distant, prostate cancer only makes up around 5% of cases, the five-year survival rate drops down to around 30%. If you have one or many of the symptoms we mentioned above, ignoring them could be deadly. Speak with your doctor. Even if cancer is not the culprit, they may be able to help you manage the discomfort or treat other potentially serious illnesses.