Earlier signs of prostate cancer? – Yes, there may be urinary problems

We wish there was an abundance of earlier signs of prostate cancer, because then perhaps more men might be diagnosed when the disease is still in its beginning stages.

Unfortunately most of the physical warning signs of prostate cancer tend to occur once the disease has already advanced.

That being said, some men may experience difficultly urinating, especially if the tumor presses against the bladder or the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine from the bladder.

Specifically men may:

  • Not be able to urinate (pee)
  • Have problems starting to urinate, or difficulty stopping the flow of urine
  • Need to urinate very often, even waking up in the middle of night to urinate
  • Notice that their flow of urine is weak, or seems to start and then stop
  • Experience pain or a burning sensation while urinating

Men who experience urinary symptoms may have these symptoms come on more suddenly than slowly.  For example, over the course of several months, not over many years.

If your loved one notices any changes in his urination, he should discuss them with his doctor sooner rather than later.

Other signs of prostate cancer

While these are not earlier symptoms of prostate cancer, as the disease spreads, some men may experience:

  • Problems getting or maintaining an erection (called erectile dysfunction)
  • Blood in their urine or semen
  • Pain in their back, hips, pelvis, or ribs

With no earlier signs of prostate cancer, screening is needed

Because of the lack of earlier signs of prostate cancer, the American Cancer Society now suggests that all men with average risk discuss having a baseline PSA test and digital rectal exam at age 50.

Men at higher risk should be screened at age 45, including:

  • African-American men
  • Men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer who was diagnosed before the age of 64

Men who have more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer before age 65 should be screened at age 40.  Just as women have a baseline mammogram and are followed over the years, these men can be followed to assess their risk of developing prostate cancer.

The choice to be screened is yours

While not every medical organization currently agrees with this routine PSA screening, the choice is always up to you.  And the consensus may change (yet again) as new data from clinical studies becomes available.

Since the symptoms of prostate cancer are often “silent,” meaning there’s an absence of noticeable earlier signs of prostate cancer, PSA screening is the only tool currently widely available to help determine if a man is at risk for the disease.

Men should discuss the risks and benefits of PSA screening with their physician. The decision is ultimately up to each individual man.

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The American Cancer Society. Prostate Cancer. http://www.cancer.org. Accessed March 17, 2015.

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