The Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

In its earliest stages, prostate cancer often has no discernable symptoms for a number of years. Often, this form of cancer is first detected by an unusual reading from a blood test or the detection of a lump in the prostate gland. On some occasions, a physician may find a lump during a routine digital rectal examination.

Although rare, in some advanced cases, the cancer may become enlarged and place pressure on the urethra. The result is a weakened flow of urine thus making the process of urinating more difficult. Patients also can experience a burning sensation when urinating or seeing the presence of blood in the urine. As the tumor grows, it can begin to block the flow of urine, resulting in an enlarged and painfully blocked bladder.

The presence of these symptoms alone does not necessarily indicate having prostate cancer. In many cases, these symptoms can occur in men who have a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. However, these symptoms should prompt a patient to see a doctor to confirm that cancer is not the primary cause and otherwise deliver appropriate treatment.

In its most advanced stages, prostate cancer has the capacity to spread to the surrounding tissue or the nearby lymph nodes. The cancer can spread even further (metastasize) to other regions of the body. The symptoms of cancer metastasis can include malaise, weight loss, and fatigue. During rectal examination, a physician can occasionally detect a local spread into the surrounding structures.

Prostate cancer usually spreads initially to the lower spine or the pelvic bones, resulting in back or pelvic pain. The cancer can then travel to the liver and lungs. Once spread to the liver, the resulting symptoms can include abdominal pain and jaundice (yellow color of the skin) on rare occasions. Metastases to the lungs can result in coughing and chest pain.

It’s often surprising to learn that the majority of men diagnosed with prostate cancer have no symptoms when the disease is initially detected. Because of the use of the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, most men see their prostate cancer detected long before symptoms appear. The PSA test is a basic blood test that screens for a specific protein produced by the protein. As the prostate becomes enlarged, more of this protein is produced allowing for detection by the PSA test.

Despite this fact, it is critical that men see their doctor when they see any of the symptoms described above. Thousands of men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year after symptoms have developed.


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