Prostate cancer signs and symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms may be different for each man and these also be seen in other non cancer prostate conditions. Estimated new cases of prostate cancer in 2016 are 180,890 i.e. 10.7% of all new cancer cases while estimated deaths in 2016 from prostate cancer are 26,120(4.0% of all cancer deaths). Approximately 12.9 percent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Average 5-yrs survival is 98.9 %(based on 2006-2012 data). As a result screening done in the form of digital rectal exams (DRE) and prostate specific antigens (PSA) tests are important. Screening is advised to men that over the age of 55 yrs or earlier if they have a family history of prostate or any other cancer. Patients who complain of urinary tract infections or other issues are also suggested to consult urologists early. It should be noted that the symptoms associated with prostate cancer may be silent and most of the times; symptoms were ignore which results in late detection in advanced stage and/or complicated state. In an interview Dr RN Tagore, Sr Consultant Medical Oncology, Paras Cancer Centre, highlights the signs and symptoms that every man should be aware of.
Urinary Symptoms of Prostate Cancer:
As the prostate lies below the urinary bladder (neck) and the urethra passes through it, any prostate disease can present with urinary complications. Depending on the size and the location, a tumour may press on or constrict the urethra, decreasing the flow of the urine.
The Common Urinary Symptoms in Prostate Cancer include:
- Burning or pain during urination
- Difficulty in urination or trouble starting while urination
- More frequent urges to urinate , especially in the night
- Decreased flow of the urine stream or intermittent flow taking longer time to empty
- Dribbling of urine
- Straining while passing urine.
- Sometimes blood in the urine (hematuria)
Other Prostate Cancer Signs and Symptoms:
Prostate cancer may spread to nearby areas/organs like the lymph nodes. Other prostate cancer symptoms include:
- Blood in the semen
- Difficulty in getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)
- Painful ejaculation
- Swelling in the legs or the pelvic area
It can also spread bones through the blood stream, especially to the spine (initially in pelvic and lumbar vertebrae) where it may press on the spinal nerves. It can rarely spread to the lungs and the liver.
Late Signs and Symptoms associated with Prostate Cancer:
Late signs and symptoms occur as the prostate cancer grows larger or spreads to other parts of the body(especially vague in nature):
- Weight loss
- Low red blood cell count ( anemia) if marrow involve
- Bone pain (especially in the back , hips , thighs or the neck)
- Numbness or pain in the hips, perineum, legs or feet
- Weakness in the legs or feet
- Loss of bladder or bowel control
- Difficulty in passing stools
If anyone is experiencing the above mentioned signs and symptoms they should must consult a doctor, a urologist, or a cancer specialist, at the earliest. Early detection of cancers, especially prostate cancer, is very important. Prostate cancer can often be found before the symptoms arise by testing the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. Normally PSA level should less than 4.0ng/ml; gray zone if level in between 4.0 to 10.0ng/ml and highly suspicious if level >11.0ng/ml particularly in aged population. Another way of detecting prostate cancer is the digital rectal exam (DRE). In this a doctor puts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. If the tests of either of them are abnormal, further testing may also be done by biopsy of the prostate through USG popularly known as TRUS-P(Trans Rectal Ultra Sonography of Prostate) to confirm if a man has cancer. Early detection/early diagnosis make a man complete free from prostate cancer. Hence screening is of prime importance especially in high risk group population.