Prostate Cancer Symptoms You Shouldn’t Ignore
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer, outside of skin cancer, to affect men, and each year over 27,000 men will die from the disease. This makes it a serious risk for the modern American man, and something worth learning a little more about. Understanding prostate cancer symptoms is one of the first steps towards protecting your prostate health and avoiding complications from prostate cancer and getting accurate treatment while the cancer is still within the gland.
Understanding the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Early in the disease, prostate cancer causes no symptoms. This is largely due to the small size of the gland, which is only about the size of a walnut, and the small size of the tumors. As the disease progresses, however, some symptoms can develop.
The first symptoms of prostate cancer many men experience is difficulty with urination. Because the urethra runs through the prostate, growing tumors can cause slowing or weakening of the urinary stream. Men may need to urinate more often, and they may find themselves waking often at night to use the facilities. Blood in the urine accompanied by these other signs can be a problem.
Sometimes prostate cancer can cause erectile dysfunction. While this can be a symptom of a wide range of conditions, and can simply be a natural part of the aging process, it can also point to something more serious.
Sometimes men with prostate cancer will experience pain in the hips or back. This typically occurs when the cancer begins to spread, specifically to the bones. Prostate cancer that is contained within the gland rarely causes pain.
However, sometimes the cancer can grow to the point that it puts pressure on the spinal cord. This can cause weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or a loss of bowel or bladder control.
Each of these symptoms can be from a number of conditions, including several benign conditions like benign prostatitc hyperplasia. However, because they are prostate cancer symptoms, you will need to talk to your doctor soon if you are noticing these problems so the cause can be found and proper treatment prescribed to preserve quality of life.
Early Detection Is the Key to Successful Treatment
Unfortunately, most men do not show any symptoms of prostate cancer until the cancer has already begun to spread. For this reason, some doctors recommend prostate cancer screening as a routine option for those men at risk of the disease, because screening allows doctors to find the cancer while it is still in a curable state.
Testing the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the patient’s blood is one way to test for early stage prostate cancer. A digital rectal exam (DRE) is another commonly used tests. Most of the time prostate cancer is only suspected after both tests.
If these tests are abnormal, or if the patient is experiencing prostate cancer symptoms, the doctor will perform additional tests to determine of cancer is present, and if it is present, how fast it is growing.
New Treatments Stop Prostate Cancer Without Undue Risk
Much debate has been presented in recent years about early detection for prostate cancer. On one hand, early detection ensures treatment can start before the cancer has a chance to grow out of the prostate gland. On the other hand, early identification is the key to treatment before the prostate cancer has a chance to grow.
Today’s doctors are choosing to provide patients with accurate information about the benefits and drawbacks of early diagnosis and treatment, allowing patients to make informed decisions for themselves about this early screening.
The good news, however, is that prostate cancer treatment has come a long way. Now, patients have options to allow them to destroy their prostate cancers with much less of a risk of damage to the surrounding tissue, and thus the risk of problems like incontinence and impotence is lessened.
HIFU, or high intensity focused ultrasound, is one of the least invasive, least risky prostate cancer treatments currently available. It offers the option to treat prostate cancer by carefully targeting the gland and the cancer using ultrasound to destroy the tissue. New imaging techniques, such as those available with the Sonablate, a device that recently won FDA approval for use in the United States, allows doctors to perform this treatment with pinpoint accuracy, improving outcomes and reducing side effects.
Each year 27,000 people will die from prostate cancer, but that’s not the end of the story. Across the United States, over 2 million men are able to call themselves prostate cancer survivors. If you are dealing with prostate cancer symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Otherwise, talk to your doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of prostate cancer screening, so you can take charge of your prostate health.