Approximately 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it the most common cancer among men, after skin cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be about 288,300 new cases of prostate cancer in 2023.
Prostate cancer progresses slowly over many years. Most men don’t notice the signs until they are old enough to detect them. However, recognizing the early symptoms of prostate cancer increases the chances of treatment success.
What is prostate cancer?
All cancers are named for the part of the body where they start. prostate cancer It begins in the prostate, a gland found only in men that is essential for reproduction. Prostate cancer begins when cells in this gland grow abnormally. Cancer uses male sex hormones called androgens as fuel for growth. hormone therapy it can block the action of androgens and treat prostate cancer.
Cancer cells grow slowly and can take years to become large enough to be detected. They may take even longer to spread to other parts of the body. However, some cases of prostate cancer can be more aggressive and need urgent treatment.
Who is at risk of prostate cancer?
Although all men are at risk of prostate cancer, some groups are at higher risk than others. The risk increases significantly after age 50. About 6 out of 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65 years.
African-American men are at higher risk of prostate cancer than men of other races. They also tend to be younger when diagnosed and more likely to die from the disease. Asian and Hispanic/Latino men are at lower risk of prostate cancer than non-Hispanic white men. It is not clear why these disparities exist, but the difference in results is narrowing.
As with many diseases, family history also plays a role in the development of prostate cancer. It can run in some families, suggesting that a genetic component may increase the risk. Men who have a father or brother with prostate cancer have twice the risk of developing the disease. However, most cases of prostate cancer are found in men with no family history.
What are the first symptoms of prostate cancer?
Since prostate cancer grows slowly, most men don’t realize that something is wrong in the early stages. However, there are five warning signs you shouldn’t ignore:
- Pain or burning when urinating or ejaculating
- Frequent urination, especially at night.
- Problems getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Blood in urine or semen
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
Other early symptoms of prostate cancer can include weak urine flow and discomfort or pain when sitting.
Keep in mind that not all men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer will have these symptoms. Similarly, these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. They may be related to less serious conditions, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This is a common condition in which a man’s prostate becomes enlarged, sometimes two to three times its original size. However, BPH does not mean that he has an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Prostatitis it also has symptoms that are similar to the symptoms of prostate cancer. Prostatitis is a painful condition in which the prostate becomes inflamed and swollen. It is the most common cause of urinary tract infections in men, but it is not cancer. It is almost always treatable with antibiotics.
What are the signs of advanced prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is known as advanced or metastatic prostate cancer. Advanced prostate cancer usually spreads to the bladder, rectum, and bones. It can also spread to the liver, lungs, lymph nodes, or other tissues in the body.
The signs of advanced prostate cancer depend on where the cancer has spread. These signs may include swelling or weakness in the legs, back or hip pain, shortness of breath, or a persistent cough. Cancer that has spread to the intestines can also cause loss of bowel control, stomach pain, or constipation.
When should men be screened for prostate cancer?
Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach to screening, there are recommendations that can help. If you have certain risk factors, such as age or race, you may want to talk to your doctor about screening before men without risk factors.
The US Preventive Services Task Force issued the following Recommendations for the detection of prostate cancer. in 2018:
- Men ages 55 to 69 must make individual decisions about when to have a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test.
- Men should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of screening and treatment.
- Men age 70 and older should not be tested.
The recommendations apply to men who:
- Have a medium risk
- Have a higher risk
- have no symptoms
- I have never been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
What should you do if you think you have prostate cancer?
Talk to your doctor if you have early symptoms of prostate cancer, especially if they come on suddenly. Your doctor will use the PSA blood test or a digital rectal exam to determine if there is a problem with your prostate. Depending on the results, your doctor may order a biopsy.
If you have prostate cancer, the biopsy can help identify the stage so your doctor can develop a treatment plan for you. Early diagnosis is better and increases the chances of effective treatment, so don’t hesitate to discuss your concerns with your doctor.