Prostate cancer symptoms might or might not manifest in a man suffering from this condition. Being a slow developing type of cancer, some men who have the disease might not even know that they have it. Since cancer of the prostate is more common in older men, there are those who die of other causes or diseases without even being diagnosed with prostate cancer until their bodies are examined in the autopsy table. Particularly in the early stages, symptoms are almost non-existent in patients with this disease.
For men who did experience prostate cancer symptoms, the most common are frequent urination, increased tendency to urinate at night, difficulty in maintaining a steady stream of urine, pain during urination and blood in the urine. Cancer of the prostate can also cause sexual function problems such as difficulty in achieving erection and painful ejaculation. If the condition is in the advanced stage or has metastasized in other parts of the body like the bone and the lymph nodes, additional symptoms will be most likely to occur. These can include bone pain, particularly in the spine, pelvis and ribs. If the cancer has spread to the spine, it can compress the spinal cord which can result to weakness in the legs and even urinary and fecal incontinence.
The symptoms of prostate cancer are very similar to those of other prostate disorders such as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) and prostatitis. To determine the reason behind the symptoms, a thorough examination is necessary. If the cancer is detected at its earliest stage, the patient will have a better chance of treating and maintaining the condition. Several methods of detecting cancer in the prostate have been developed during the last few years and two of the most common are the prostatic specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal exam (DRE).
PSA is a protein that is produced in the prostate gland and released in very small amounts into the bloodstream. If a patient has a prostate condition, more PSA is released into the blood until it reaches a level where it can be easily detected. PSA levels under 4 ng/mL are usually considered as normal, while levels between 4 and 10 ng/mL are considered intermediate. However, in some cases, men with prostate cancer still record a low level of PSA. In cases like these, a DRE is often conducted to supplement the results of the PSA test.
DRE is a process wherein the physician inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to examine the size, shape and texture of the prostate and determine any irregularity. It is also often used by urologists to distinguish between cancer and non-cancerous conditions such as BPH and prostatitis.
Although DRE and PSA test have been widely used as screening techniques, doctors have cautioned that these diagnostic measures are not 100 percent accurate. Other factors might cause the elevated level of PSA in a man’s blood or cause irregularities in the prostate. With this in mind, patients are advised not to rush into these tests but have a long, detailed discussion with their physicians first.
Getting screened for cancer is only advisable if any of the common prostate cancer symptoms are experienced by the patient. It is also important to remember that the symptoms might be caused by other conditions and not by cancer at all.