The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Located below the bladder, its function is to secrete a thick fluid that makes up part of semen. In young men, it is about the size of a walnut. The prostate typically enlarges as men get older. An enlarged prostate does not, by itself, mean that cancer is present. Given that the prostate rests just under the bladder, it makes sense that most of the early symptoms of prostate cancer have to do with urination. It should be noted, however, that most men have no early symptoms of prostate cancer at all. Men who do experience early symptoms of prostate cancer generally complain of feeling like their urine flow is “blocked.” Some men feel as if urine is retained in their bladder, even after using the bathroom. Others complaints include frequent urination, urinary urgency, and even urine leakage. Very rarely, blood may appear in the urine. Another early symptom of prostate cancer is pain with ejaculation.
Early Symptoms of Prostate Cancer: A Silent Disease
Like so many other cancers that begin in the abdominal area, the early stages of prostate cancer often do not produce any symptoms. Because prostate cancer has so few early symptoms, it is important for men to receive regular screenings for prostate cancer. The screenings usually involve two common tests. First is a digital rectal exam (DRE). The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum and feels the prostate for growths, lumps, etc. The second part of the screening involves a blood test to check for prostate specific antigens (PSA). If these tests are abnormal, the doctor may decide to do a prostate biopsy.
Symptoms of Advanced Prostate Cancer
Most prostate cancers are slow-growing and never metastasize (spread) to any other part of the body. Men with these slow cancers often live a normal life span even without treatment. Some types of prostate cancer, however, grow quickly and spread easily. When prostate cancer spreads, it usually goes into the bones. At this point, the man with prostate cancer may begin to experience fatigue and weight loss. Another symptom of advanced prostate cancer is pain in the bones, usually in the hips and back. As the cancer grows and further compromises the bone, fractures become likely. Cancers identified at this late stage cannot be cured, but they can often be controlled with treatments such as hormone therapy.