Prostate Cancer Symptoms

April 7, 2023

Prostate Cancer symptoms

What should i look for?

by Jamal Ross

Before we begin our discussion on the symptoms of prostate cancer, it is important to realize that it is our goal to detect prostate cancer before symptoms develop. More prostate cancers are found when there are no symptoms at all. Instead, a high Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) may be found on blood testing or a hard prostate gland may be found on a rectal exam. When symptoms of prostate cancer come about, this can mean that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate. At other times, the symptoms of prostate cancer can be confused with other conditions of the bladder and prostate. Let’s find out more about the symptoms of prostate cancer and what we can do to catch this disease early.

 The symptoms of prostate cancer can be broad. This may include difficulty urinating or being unable to urinate. These symptoms can also be seen with an enlarged prostate, also know as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH). It is also possible to have blood in the urine and semen, but this can be seen with infections of the bladder and testicles respectively. Notwithstanding, most of those with prostate cancer will to have no symptoms. Intersteingly , up to 70% of men in their 70s will be found to have cancer cells in their prostate gland. (1) Prostate cancer can grow so slowly that, in many cases, elderly men never realize they had the disease. (2) At other times prostate cancer can be aggressive and can affect middle age men.

When prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate, the symptoms can be broad as well. Unintentional weight loss is a common symptom of all cancers. If you are losing weight unexpectedly, you should see you doctor immediately. It is possible to have erectile dysfunction (ED), but this condition can also be seen with diabetes and advanced age. Otherwise, prostate cancer tends to spread to the bones, therefore worsening or new onset back and bone pain can be a symptom of cancer that has spread beyond the prostate gland. It is also possible to have weakness due to a mass pressing on the spinal cord. (3) Again, it is our goal to find prostate cancer before it has reached this point.

In all, prostate cancer is a difficult disease to pick up back on symptoms alone. In most cases, prostate cancer grows very slowly and many men with never realize they had cancer cell in their prostate. At other times, this disease can be aggressive and deadly. Therefore, we not only need to find a way to pick up this disease before symptoms develop, but also a means to separate slow growing from aggressive disease. Read our blog or listen to our podcast on Prostate Screening: “What does my PSA level mean and Do I Need a Biopsy of My Prostate?” to find our more.

1. Bell KJ, Del Mar C, Wright G, Dickinson J, Glasziou P. Prevalence of incidental prostate cancer: A systematic review of autopsy studies. Int J Cancer. 2015 Oct 1;137(7):1749-
2.Haas GP, Sakr WA. Epidemiology of prostate cancer. CA Cancer J Clin. 1997 Sep-Oct;47(5):273-87.
3. Taplin ME L & Smith JA. Clinical Presentation and Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer. In: UpToDate, Vogelzang AD, Lee RW & Richie JP. (Eds), UpToDate, Waltham, MA. (Accessed on October 10, 2021.)

Jamal Ross

Dr. Jamal Ross is an internist and pediatrician who possesses a passion for prayer and preventative medicine. He has worked in the fields of primary care and hospital medicine.

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