Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer found in men – the first being skin cancer. Each year, more than 220,000 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in the United States. About 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is more common in older men, but it is important for all men to understand the signs and symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer occurs when prostate cancer cells live longer than normal cells and form tumors. It is often slow-growing and may take time to present itself.
It is important to understand that the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are common and often times are the result of other causes. Some men may experience symptoms while others do not notice any change in their health. Symptoms can include:
- Urinary urgency (frequently at night)
- Difficulty urinating
- Weak/interrupted flow of urine
- Burning/painful urination
- Difficulty with erections
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Pain/stiffness in lower back, hips or thighs
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to discuss them with your physician. Your physician will order a complete work-up to determine if these signs are related to prostate cancer or another disorder.
Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer
A cancer risk factor is something that changes your chance of getting cancer. Risk factors do not mean that you will have cancer, but are a tool for helping you understand your body’s health.
Some of the risk factors for prostate cancer include:
- Age – A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age. More than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are in men over the age of 65, but this does not mean that younger men cannot be diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Family History – If a man’s father or brother has had prostate cancer, their risk for prostate cancer is doubled.
- Lifestyle Choices – Smoking, lack of vegetables and obesity have all been linked to aggressive forms of prostate cancer.
Time to Get Screened
While screening may vary based on the individual’s risk, men usually start getting screened for prostate cancer between the ages of 40 and 45. When speaking to your physician about prostate cancer screenings, be sure to communicate about your family history, as well as any other concerns you may have.
Prostate cancer can be detected through a digital rectal exam, where a physician can estimate the size of the prostate or feel for lumps/abnormalities. Also, a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test can be ordered. This is a blood test that tests for the amount of PSA in the blood.
Early detection saves lives. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of prostate cancer, schedule an appointment with your physician to determine the best next steps.