Although early detection is rare, men often notice symptoms before their cancer diagnosis. For men 40 years and over, getting a regular PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test done increases the chances of early detection, which greatly increases the survival rate from prostate cancer.
Symptoms can vary depending upon the location and stage of the cancer in the prostate. The presence of the following symptoms is not necessarily indicative of a prostate tumor, but if you notice them, it’s a good reason to see a board certified urologist for a check-up.
Disruptions in your normal urine flow or complete interruption of flow
Urgent or frequent urination, especially at when you're sleeping
Urinary Incontinence (losing control of your urine)
Painful or burning sensation when urinating
Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Pain during ejaculations
Fecal Incontinence (losing control of your bowels)
Blood in your semen
Blood in your urine
Persistent pain in your lower back and/or throughout your hips
As prostate cancer advances and spreads beyond the prostate gland to other areas of the body, like the lymph nodes or bones, men may experience additional symptoms. These symptoms often happen at the same time as the top 10 signs of prostate cancer. Signs of metastatic prostate cancer may include:
Numbness, pain, or a tingly sensation in the hips, legs, or feet
Adema (swelling) of the legs and/or hips
Bone pain that doesn't go away
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available to manage advanced prostate cancer, including those that target cancer cells and can help alleviate pain.
Prostate cancer usually advances in its earliest phases without the classic prostate cancer symptoms, which is why prostate cancer screening tests are essential to early detection. However, the earliest prostate cancer symptoms are usually urinary, such as inability to hold your urine or disruption of your urine stream. Seeing your primary care physician to order blood tests like a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA test) is advised.
Because the prostate and urinary system are so near each other, any tumor or mass in the prostate can interrupt the flow of urine. Thus, the biggest, or most common symptoms of prostate cancer are typically urinary symptoms, such as disruptions in your urine or blood in your urine. Blood in the semen and erectile dysfunction are also potential indicators.
While these symptoms can also indicate other health concerns, when multiple symptoms occur at once, along with persistent bone pain or swelling in the legs, these could be indicators of advanced prostate cancer. If you notice any of these symptoms, please see a board certified urologist as soon as possible.
Some of these symptoms can also be an indication of non-cancerous conditions that share similar signs. It's essential to note that not all prostate problems indicate prostate cancer. Other non-cancerous conditions that may lead to similar symptoms include:
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): Almost everyone with a prostate gland will develop BPH at some point, which enlarges the gland but does not increase the risk of cancer.
Prostatitis: An enlarged prostate gland is most often caused by prostatitis, which is a benign (non-cancerous) condition that results in inflammation of the prostate gland. Most typically, this is caused by bacterial infections which are not Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI's) and tend to happen more frequently to men who sit for long hours in hot environments.
Urinary symptoms can also be indicators of other conditions. For example, strong smelling urine combined with any of the most common symptoms of prostate cancer can be a sign of an infection, such as a UTI.
While women are more likely to experience a UTI (urinary tract infection), men are able to experience this as well, and it may spread up to the prostate and cause prostatitis.
Some Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) may also cause similar symptoms, such as blood in the urine or semen, burning or pain during urination, and urinary urgency or frequency. However, STIs also often come with symptoms not seen in prostate cancer, like bumps or sores, fever, and rash. Men often experience fewer STI symptoms than women, so whether you are symptomatic or not, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs on a regular basis.
While the exact cause of prostate cancer remains unclear, various factors have been linked to an increased risk of developing this cancer.
Age: The majority (around 80%) of prostate tumors are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older.
Ethnicity: Black men have a doubled risk of developing prostate cancer compared to Caucasian men, and are also more likely to develop an aggressive form of the disease.
Family History: Men with a family history of prostate cancer, especially if the relatives were diagnosed before the age of 60 and are first degree (such as father or brother), are at higher risk.
Lifestyle factors: A high-fat diet and obesity have been associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight could minimize your risk of prostate cancer as well as several other diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
It's worth noting that not all cases of prostate cancer require aggressive treatment, and while one in six men may develop invasive prostate cancer during their lifetime, not all of these cases will be life-threatening.
If you have any interruptions in your ability to urinate or have other urinary symptoms, such as urgency to urinate late at night, you should visit a qualified urologist right away. At Comprehensive Urology in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, Dr. Kia Michel has all the necessary equipment in his best-in-class facility to diagnose the root cause of your urinary symptoms fast. We're able to perform urodynamic exams and use the UroCuff to distinguish between prostatitis, BPH, and prostate cancer in your first visit. Schedule Your Appointment Today.
Symptoms alone are not sufficient to confirm prostate cancer. A blood test, such as a PSA, can provide an early indicator of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate caused by other conditions.
Another test, called a prostate needle biopsy, can also be used to detect cancer. In a prostate needle biopsy, a small needle is inserted into the prostate gland to extract a small number of cells, which are then examined to identify abnormalities such as cancer.
For men with prostate cancer, life expectancy can vary widely. It depends on several factors, including:
the stage and grade of the cancer
the age and overall health of the individual
the effectiveness of the chosen treatment.
Prostate cancer is generally a slow-growing cancer, and many men with the disease live for years without experiencing significant symptoms or complications.
In cases where the cancer is diagnosed early, and the cancer is localized within the prostate gland (hasn’t spread beyond the prostate), the 5-year survival rate is nearly 100%. This means that almost all men with localized prostate cancer can expect to live at least five years after diagnosis.
If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate to nearby tissues or organs, the 5-year survival rate decreases to around 30% to 70%, depending on the extent of the spread. If the cancer has metastasized to more distant sites, such as the bones or other organs, the 5-year survival rate drops further to about 30%. However, approximately 83% of prostate cancers are found before it spreads beyond the prostate.
Keep in mind that survival rates are statistical averages; they cannot predict individual outcomes. Each person's situation is unique, and factors like treatment response and overall health can influence life expectancy. Thus, it's crucial for individuals diagnosed with prostate cancer to work closely with their healthcare team to determine the most appropriate treatment plan and to regularly monitor their condition.
In the event that you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, Comprehensive Urology offers the latest in non-invasive treatments to ensure that you maintain healthy function of your erections and bladder after the treatment is finished.