Six Prostate Cancer Symptoms To Watch Out For

Early Signs of Prostate Cancer

Recent prostate cancer research commissioned by GenesisCare¹ has provided further insight into the disease that currently affects an eighth of all men and claims nine thousand lives each year in the UK. Just a quarter of all the men surveyed could identify the symptoms of prostate cancer and when it came to recognising the early warning signs of prostate cancer, men are seventy three percent less likely to do so than their female counterparts. This is hugely significant considering the hundreds, maybe thousands of lives which could potentially be saved each year.

Typically, prostate cancer is slow to develop, the timely seeking of treatment can often prove critical, but with half of all male survey participants admitting to being unaware of where their prostate is located, it’s perhaps easier to comprehend why so few men receive an early-stage diagnosis. The symptoms can be misleading and are often overlooked.

Six Typical Indicators to Watch for

Early indicators² of prostate cancer include symptoms such as the sudden or frequent need to urinate, an increase in night-time urges, straining or weakened flow and burning or discomfort; traces of blood could also be found. As well as these five urinary issues, a sixth indicator is erectile dysfunction and/or painful ejaculation, which combined with age ethnicity and medical history may signify early-stage prostate cancer.

Cancerous cells cause enlargement of the prostate, which then applies pressure to the urethra and often induces the urinary difficulties highlighted above, but because the prostate naturally increases in size with age (referred to as BPH (Benign prostatic hyperplasia), enlarged prostates DOES NOT categorically indicate or confirm the presence of cancer. The prostate may also be inflamed such as occurs in prostatitis, so it’s important to get a diagnosis by your healthcare provider should you be concerned.

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Prostate Cancer
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Diagnosis

Prostate cancer is hereditary in just five percent of all patients and black men are proven to be more prone to the disease, but men in their late forties are most at risk. Because symptoms also present themselves in late-stage prostate cancer, those experiencing any symptoms should consult their healthcare provider as soon as possible when an initial prostate examination is likely to be arranged.

Your provider may conduct a physical examination of your prostate to assess its size, texture and rigidity, and to check for any hard areas, tell-tale growths or lumps that can be sore to the touch or in some cases, breach the prostate.

Alongside digital prostate examinations, doctors will also consider the medical history of both the patient and their family, to determine whether cancer is likely to be present. Doctors may require samples of urine and/or blood to determine if a patient’s PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) levels are abnormally high as this can be indicative of cancer, but not exclusively.

Patients with enlarged prostates can also have unusually high PSA levels, ultrasound scans can also be used to provide greater clarity. This effectively means that digital images of the prostate are taken for analysis. In cases where cancer is deemed probable, patients are usually referred to specialist urologists, who may then conduct a biopsy of the prostate.

Treatment Options

Prostate biopsies check several areas of the prostate gland. Tiny samples of tissue are extracted and analysed, ahead of any final diagnosis. The nature and severity of any cancer detected will often dictate the most appropriate course of treatment prescribed by your specialist. Treatment methods vary and can include active surveillance, hormone therapy, radiation therapy or surgery. Mental health support should also be offered.

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Clinical pathways involve regular monitoring to see if/how the cancer develops (active surveillance), the reduction or prevention of testosterone production to starve cancerous cells (hormone therapy), the reduction or removal of cancerous tumours (radiation therapy) or surgical procedures that will remove damaged tissue; removal of the entire prostate is also possible.

¹ GenesisCare, Prostate Cancer, December 20121. ² Daily Express (UK), Symptoms to look out for, January 2021

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