What Should I Do If I Have Prostate Cancer Symptoms
If you are displaying one or more signs of prostate cancer, be sure to promptly consult with a physician. Even benign prostate conditions like prostate enlargement warrant timely medical attention, so dont delay seeking treatment. And, like most other malignancies, prostate cancer is usually more easily treated when it is detected at an early stage.
What Are 5 Common Warning Signs Of Prostate Cancer
In many cases, prostate cancer does not produce clear symptoms in its initial stages of development. In fact, many men may have prostate cancer without even realizing it. However, there are some common warning signs that could indicate a person has prostate cancer. Five of the most common ones include:
Of course, these five symptoms are not the only potential warning signs of prostate cancer. Other possible indicators could include weak urine flow, and unexplained pain deep in the groin area when sitting down. If cancer has spread beyond the prostate, a man may also suffer lower body swelling, abnormal urinary or bowel habits, or inexplicable weight loss.
It’s important to note that most of these symptoms are not unique to prostate cancer, and may indicate a different condition that is not life-threatening.
What Causes An Enlarged Prostate
It’s not known what causes many cases of prostatitis. A bacterial infection is only sometimes responsible.
In many cases of chronic prostatitis, doctors can’t find any infection in the prostate gland, although they may still prescribe a course of antibiotics. In these cases, the cause is poorly understood.
Chronic prostatitis is thought to be caused by a number of suggested factors, including partial blockage of the flow of urine and underlying problems with the immune system, pelvic floor or nervous system.
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Diagnosing Back Pain And Prostate Cancer
A doctors first step in finding out the cause of back pain typically is to take an image, usually an X-ray or CT scan.
For men who have early stage or localized prostate cancer, that it would spread to the bone is very unusual, says Chris Filson, a doctor at the Atlanta Veterans Administration Medical Center. However, if a patient has more advanced prostate cancer, we have to do additional tests to ensure theres no involvement of the cancer in the bone.
A doctor who suspects or already has diagnosed prostate cancer will look for characteristic changes in the bone. The X-ray or CT scan also can indicate how much of your spine is affected and where.
In addition, an MRI can detect problems that an X-ray or CT scan cant.
Chiropractors are often the ones who first spot or suggest the presence of prostate cancer. Joint pain, especially back pain, often sends people to chiropractic care when they dont have any other symptoms of prostate cancer.
Whether youre seeing a chiropractor or medical doctor, be sure to provide your complete medical history. This can help your doctor diagnose your back pain. Its especially important to mention any personal or family history of cancer.
If Your Prostate Cancer Has Spread
If cancer has spread to other parts of your body it cant be cured. This is advanced prostate cancer. Treatment can help to control the cancer and your symptoms. This might be:
- hormone treatment to lower your testosterone levels
- bisphosphonates to help with bone pain
- radiotherapy to particular parts of the skeleton
- radioactive liquid treatment radiotherapy , such as radium-223
If hormone therapy is no longer working for you, you might have:
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What Causes Prostate Cancer
Put simply, prostate cancer is caused by changes in a person’s genetic code or DNA. There are two important types of genes that may play a role in the development of prostate cancer:
- Genes that help cells grow, divide, and stay alive are called oncogenes.
- Genes that keep cell growth under control, repair mistakes in our DNA, or trigger cellular death at the right time are called tumor suppressor genes.
If either gene type changes , then it can result in cells growing out of control e.g., cancer.
How Is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed
Screenings are the most effective way to catch prostate cancer early. If you are at average cancer risk, youll probably have your first prostate screening at age 55. Your healthcare provider may start testing earlier if you have a family history of the disease or are Black. Screening is generally stopped after age 70, but may be continued in certain circumstances.
Screening tests for prostate cancer include:
- Digital rectal exam: Your provider inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and feels the prostate gland, which sits in front of the rectum. Bumps or hard areas could indicate cancer.
- Prostate-specific antigen blood test: The prostate gland makes a protein called protein-specific antigen . Elevated PSA levels may indicate cancer. Levels also rise if you have BPH or prostatitis.
- Biopsy: A needle biopsy to sample tissue for cancer cells is the only sure way to diagnose prostate cancer. During an MRI-guided prostate biopsy, magnetic resonance imaging technology provides detailed images of the prostate.
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How Will Treatment Affect My Ability To Orgasm Or My Fertility
Surgery for prostate cancer can affect both your orgasms and your ability to have children. The prostate gland normally adds a fluid called semen to sperm to nourish and protect it. Youll no longer make semen after surgery, which means your orgasms will be dry. Radiation therapy can also reduce the amount of fluid you ejaculate. Without semen, you wont be able to father children. If youre concerned about fertility, you can bank your sperm before your surgery.
After surgery, orgasms will also feel different. You wont have that normal buildup of sensation before you have an orgasm. Youll still be able to feel pleasure, though.
With Psa Testing Cancer
Google keeps track of what is searched most frequently. Since prostate cancer is common, its hardly surprising that people who research aches or pains down there in the lower part of the abdomen search for symptoms of prostate cancer.
The most commonly googled question related to prostate cancer is, What are the symptoms? Given what’s published online, however, you would think that prostate cancer has all sorts of symptoms: urinary problems, pain, sexual difficulties, even rectal problems. The truth is that in this modern era of PSA testing, prostate cancer has no symptoms whatsoever! Prostate cancer is a totally silent process unless it is very advanced.
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Advanced Prostate Cancer Symptoms
Men with advanced prostate cancer may experience additional symptoms. Thats because the cancer has spread from the prostate to other parts of the body, such as the bones or lymph nodes.
A wide range of treatment options are available for managing advanced cancer. These treatments kill cancer cells, but they may also help patients manage pain.
Signs of metastatic prostate cancer may include:
- Swelling in legs or pelvic area
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
- Bone pain that persists or leads to fractures
Imaging Tests For Prostate Cancer
Imaging tests use x-rays, magnetic fields, sound waves, or radioactive substances to create pictures of the inside of your body. One or more imaging tests might be used:
- To look for cancer in the prostate
- To help the doctor see the prostate during certain procedures
- To look for spread of prostate cancer to other parts of the body
Which tests you might need will depend on the situation. For example, a prostate biopsy is typically done with transrectal ultrasound and/or MRI to help guide the biopsy. If you are found to have prostate cancer, you might need imaging tests of other parts of your body to look for possible cancer spread.
The imaging tests used most often to look for prostate cancer spread include:
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Signs That Warrant An Immediate Trip To A Doctor
Some common cancer signs that should result in a visit to the emergency room or to a doctor as soon as possible include:
- coughing up mucus tinged with blood
- blood in stools or urine
- lump in the breast, testicles, under the arm, or anywhere that it didnt exist before
- unexplained but noticeable weight loss
- severe unexplained pain in the head, neck, chest, abdomen, or pelvis
These and other signs and symptoms will be evaluated. Screenings, such as blood and urine tests and imaging tests, will be used if your doctor thinks its appropriate.
These tests are done both to help make a diagnosis as well as rule out various causes of your signs and symptoms.
When seeing a doctor, be prepared to share the following information:
- your personal medical history, including all symptoms you have experienced, as well as when they began
- family history of cancer or other chronic conditions
- list of all medications and supplements you take
When To Have Psa Tests
The prostate gland produces a protein called PSA. Levels of this protein increase when the prostate is dealing with irritation, swelling, or the growth of cancerous cells.
High levels of PSA in the blood do not necessarily mean that an individual has prostate cancer, but they can suggest that further tests are necessary.
The Prostate Cancer Research Institute recommend that most men start having PSA tests at the age of 45.
Males with a higher risk of developing the disease, including those who are African-American or who have a family history of prostate cancer, should start undergoing these tests at age 40.
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Testing Options For Prostate Cancer
There is no one age for prostate cancer testing, but the American Cancer Society makes recommendations about screenings. According to the ACS, patients in any of these groups should consider asking their doctor about testing:
- Men age 50 or older who have an average risk of prostate cancer and a life expectancy of at least 10 more years
- Men age 45 or older with a high risk, including African-American men and those with a first-degree relative who had prostate cancer before age 65
- Men age 40 or older who have a higher risk, such as more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age
Will Treatment Cause Erectile Dysfunction
When youre sexually excited, nerves cause tissues in your penis to relax, allowing blood to flow into the organ. The nerves that control erection are very delicate. Surgery or radiation for prostate cancer may damage them enough to cause ED. When you have ED, you cant get or keep an erection.
Radical prostatectomy is a surgery to remove the prostate gland. When your surgeon removes the gland, they may damage the nerves and blood vessels that run along it. If theyre damaged enough, you wont be able to get an erection following the procedure.
Today, doctors can do nerve-sparing surgery, which helps prevent permanent ED. Your surgeon can still touch those nerves and blood vessels, causing ED as a temporary side effect. Many men have trouble getting an erection for a few weeks, months, or even years after their procedure.
Radiation therapy also damages blood vessels and the nerves that control erection. Up to half of men who have radiation for prostate cancer experience ED afterward. In some men, this symptom will improve with time. Sometimes radiation side effects dont appear until a few months after the treatment. If ED starts late, it may not be as likely to go away.
A few treatments can help with ED until youre able to have erections on your own again.
Additional treatments include the following:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer
Unfortunately, prostate cancer doesn’t usually come with symptoms and most men are diagnosed via a physical, Darren Mareiniss, MD, FACEP, assistant professor of emergency medicine at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, previously told Eat This, Not That! Health. “Most are diagnosed at a local stage and asymptomatic,” he said.
However, there are symptoms to look out for, per the CDC, who lists the symptoms to look out for on their website.
Bladder And Urinary Troubles
A prostate tumor that has grown significantly in size may start to press on your bladder and urethra. The urethra is the passage the carries urine from your bladder out of your body. If the tumor is pressing on your urethra, you might have trouble passing urine.
One of the common areas for prostate cancer to spread to is the bladder, because the two organs are close. This can cause additional problems with urination and bladder function.
Some symptoms your bladder and urethra are being affected by cancer include:
- urinating more frequently
- getting up in the middle of the night to pee
- having blood in your urine or semen
- feeling like you have to urinate often and not actually passing anything
Its not as common, but prostate cancer can also spread to your bowel. The cancer first spreads to the rectum, which is the part of your bowel closest to the prostate gland.
Symptoms of cancer thats spread to the bowels include:
- stomach pain
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What Treatment Can I Have
There are different ways to treat pain. Whats best for you will depend on a number of things, including whats causing the pain, your general health, how you are feeling emotionally and what sort of things you do in your daily life. Because pain involves all of these things, treating it often means using a few different approaches.
You might need treatment for the pain itself, such as:
Pain might be a sign that your prostate cancer treatment isnt working as well as it was. A different treatment for your cancer may help the pain. Possible treatments include:
- hormone therapy
- a type of radiotherapy called radium-223.
There are other things that may also help with pain, including:
- complementary therapies
- emotional support
- treatments for other causes of pain, such as antibiotics to treat infection.
A Suggested Psa Screening Protocol
Its reasonable to start checking PSA yearly in men over the ages of 45. Men with a family history of prostate cancer or men who are African-American should start annual testing at age 40. Men over age 75 who are in good health should continue screening.
So what is the trigger level of PSA that should lead to performing a scan? As noted above, younger men who have small prostate glands should consider doing a scan if the PSA is over 2.5. In an older man, particularly if the prostate gland as determined by the finger exam is big, a PSA over 4.0 is a reasonable threshold for obtaining imaging . The PSA blood test has far surpassed the wildest dreams of the doctors who discovered it. Like any powerful tool, however, misuse can lead to over-treatment and unnecessary harm.
So much of the misinformation on the internet implies that every ache, pain, or problem located near the prostate could be caused by cancer. The fact that the most frequently asked question related to prostate cancer is about prostate cancer symptoms indicates that the public is being led into all kinds of unnecessary anxiety.
Know this: As long as the PSA is in the normal range, in general, men can rest assured that any prostate-related symptoms they are experiencing are most likely originating from something unrelated to cancer. PSA testing detects early stage prostate cancer so reliably that when the PSA is normal, one can be sure that any prostate-related symptoms are due to some other cause.
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Talking With Your Doctor
Different kinds of doctors and other health care professionals manage prostate health. They can help you find the best care, answer your questions, and address your concerns. These health care professionals include:
- Family doctors and internists
- Physician assistants and nurse practitioners
- Urologists, who are experts in diseases of the urinary tract system and the male reproductive system
- Urologic oncologists, who are experts in treating cancers of the urinary system and the male reproductive system
- Radiation oncologists, who use radiation therapy to treat cancer
- Medical oncologists, who treat cancer with medications such as hormone treatments and chemotherapy
- Pathologists, who identify diseases by studying cells and tissues under a microscope
View these professionals as your partnersâexpert advisors and helpers in your health care. Talking openly with your doctors can help you learn more about your prostate changes and the tests to expect.
How Common Is Prostate Cancer
About one in nine men will receive a prostate cancer diagnosis during his lifetime. Prostate cancer is second only to skin cancer as the most common cancer affecting males. Close to 200,000 American men receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer every year. There are many successful treatments and some men dont need treatment at all. Still, approximately 33,000 men die from the disease every year.
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Prostate Cancer Caregiver Podcast Series
We are proud to announce a new podcast series geared toward helping give support, hope and guidance to prostate cancer caregivers. The goal of this Prostate Cancer Caregiver Podcast Series is to help others connect with a diverse group of people who have felt the impact of prostate cancer in their lives and empower them on their journey.
How The Prostate Changes As You Age
Because the prostate gland tends to grow larger with age, it may squeeze the urethra and cause problems in passing urine. Sometimes men in their 30s and 40s may begin to have these urinary symptoms and need medical attention. For others, symptoms aren’t noticed until much later in life. An infection or a tumor can also make the prostate larger. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the urinary symptoms listed below.
Tell your doctor if you have these urinary symptoms:
- Are passing urine more during the day
- Have an urgent need to pass urine
- Have less urine flow
- Feel burning when you pass urine
- Need to get up many times during the night to pass urine
Growing older raises your risk of prostate problems. The three most common prostate problems are inflammation , enlarged prostate , and prostate cancer.
One change does not lead to another. For example, having prostatitis or an enlarged prostate does not increase your risk of prostate cancer. It is also possible for you to have more than one condition at the same time.
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