This blogpost explores the potential prostate cancer signs and symptoms that men may experience before prostate cancer is diagnosed. Seeing a doctor and arranging for prostate cancer screening when one experiences these symptoms will help save lives.
1) Weak Urination Or Inability To Urinate
As the prostate surrounds the urethra, obstructive urinary symptoms may mean prostate trouble. Having a weak urinary system, failing to empty the bladder, being unable to urinate, straining, waiting too long to start urinating or having the urine stream stop and start during urination are potential prostate cancer warning signs.
These symptoms may also indicate the occurrence of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the overgrowth of normal prostate cells which is not cancerous. BPH usually grows along the urethra (causing urinary symptoms) in what is called the transition zone. 80 percent of prostate cancer grow in the outer part of the prostate (the peripheral zone) and do not cause urinary symptoms.
2) Painful Or Frequent Urination
Frequent urination, an urgent need to urinate, and painful urination may also be physical symptoms of prostate cancer. However, they are also more likely to indicate an infection of the prostate or urinary tract.
Benign enlargement of the prostate, bladder cancer, or some other irritation in the bladder, such as a bladder stone, may also cause these symptoms.
3) Inability To Urinate Or Kidney Failure
If severe symptoms such as an inability to urinate and kidney failure are due to prostate cancer and not to BPH, the prostate cancer is typically larger and more likely to have spread locally or elsewhere.
Spread into the base of the bladder may have blocked the ureters that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Or it may block the urethra where it courses through the prostate.
4) Blood In Urine
Blood in the urine may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer. However, if prostate cancer is present, blood in the urine may signal that caner has spread to the urethra or bladder and that the disease is relatively advanced.
5) Erectile Dysfunction
Some men may be unable to have and maintain an erection. This will prompt your doctor to screen for prostate cancer although the erectile dysfunction may be unrelated to cancer. If prostate cancer is present, erectile dysfunction could be due the invasion of the nearby nerves, that normally help a man achieve erections, by the cancer.
In rare cases, aggressive local spread of prostate cancer may also cause a prolonged painful erection known as priapism.
6) Blood In Semen
Blood in ejaculated semen is most commonly associated with prostatitis, an inflammatory conditions of the prostate. In men over the age of 55, this may occasionally be a sign that prostate cancer is present.
7) Abdominal Pain Or Digestive Symptoms
Locally advanced prostate cancer can invade or surround the rectum and produce obstructive symptoms similar to colorectal cancer symptoms, although this is rare.
A tough tissue separates the prostate from the rectum and tends to serve as a barrier to prevent prostate cancer from invading the rectum directly. When the invasion does happen, it may cause constipation, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal pain, bleeding or intermittent diarrhea.
8) Weight Loss, Fatigue, Or Generalized Weakness
As cancer advances, it metastasizes to other sites in the body. Five percent of prostate cancer cases are sometimes diagnosed because of the signs and symptoms of metastasis.
General symptoms of any advanced or metastasized cancer of any kind, as well as symptoms of metastasized prostate cancer, would include weight and appetite loss, tiredness and weakness.
9) Back Or Pelvic Pain
Back or pelvic pain are common symptoms of prostate cancer and a host of other different conditions. However, unrelenting pain in the back or pelvic region is one of the common signs and symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.
This is because prostate cancer typically first spreads to the bones, specifically the pelvis and spine. Besides low back pain, bone pain in other areas is also possible, as prostate cancer can also spread to the ribs and bones in the extremities.
In some cases, a broken bone is the first sign of bone metastasis. Fractures, especially in hip bones that have been weakened by cancer, cause pelvic pain.
10) Pain, Numbness Or Weakness In The Legs
Extensive metastases in the spine can compress the nerves in or near the spinal cord and cause pain, numbness, or weakness in the lower extremities, problems with bowel or urinary control, or even paralysis.
Nerves in or near the lower part of the spinal cord affect the legs, bladder, and intestines, which is why compression of the spinal cord can cause these problems. Spinal cord compression should be treated as a medical emergency.
11) Clotting Disorder
On rare occasions, men with advanced prostate cancer experience severe bleeding, usually from multiple sites. Release of substances from the prostate cancer into the bloodstream is believed to cause both clotting in the body as well as destruction of a substance necessary for clotting. As a result, the normal clotting process which normally prevents excessive bleeding is affected.
12) Mental Changes And Other Symptoms
Prostate cancer invading the bones can force large amounts of calcium out of the bones and into the bloodstream. Higher-than-normal levels of calcium in the blood (also known as hypercalcemia) can cause mental changes, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
How To Tell If Urinary Symptoms May Be Due To Prostate Cancer, And Not BPH
Symptoms due to prostate cancer may appear more suddenly over a matter of months. Urinary symptoms due to benign enlargement of the prostate tend to progress slowly over the years.
Younger men who have obstructive or irritative urinary symptoms should be evaluated for prostate cancer. This is because BPH usually appears after age 60. Several studies have also suggested that African-American men more often have obstructive symptoms at a younger age.
As benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostate cancer share the same symptoms, be as specific as you can when you describe your symptoms to your doctor.