Cancer that affects the prostate gland is known as prostate cancer. The prostate gland is a walnut-shaped gland in males responsible for producing seminal fluid that transports and nourishes the sperm. It is among the most common cancers among our country’s men, with one in eight being diagnosed with the disease. This article discusses the prostate cancer signs during the early and advanced stages and in cases where the condition keeps recurring.
Signs during the early stages
In the early stages, prostate cancer patients might experience different symptoms that affect urination. This is because the prostate gland is close to the urethra and bladder, and a tumor in the gland can exert pressure on these urinary tract organs, constricting them. This can impact the flow of urine, depending on the tumor’s size and location.
Early prostate cancer signs include pain or burning during urination, excessive urination at night, loss of bladder control, blood in the semen or urine (hematuria), and problems with starting and stopping when urinating. Patients may also experience erectile dysfunction and painful ejaculation. If detected in its early stages, prostate cancer can be cured completely.
Signs during the advanced stages
In the advanced stages, men may experience additional symptoms apart from those listed above. This happens mainly because cancer spreads from the prostate gland to other body parts, such as the lymph nodes and bones. Various treatment options are available for treating advanced prostate cancer, most of which aim to destroy the cancer cells and help patients cope with pain.
During the advanced stages, prostate cancer signs include swelling in the pelvic region and legs and a feeling of numbness in the hips and feet. Additionally, one may suffer from persistent bone pain that eventually leads to fractures. The disease may not be entirely curable once it progresses to a certain level.
Signs in case of recurrent prostate cancer
Prostate cancer that returns even after treatment is known as recurrent prostate cancer. On returning, it can affect only the prostate region (localized) or multiple body parts beyond the prostate gland (metastatic). The cancer is most likely to develop in the bones if it has metastasized or spread from the original area. Apart from the bones, the other organs that metastatic cancer can spread to include the liver and the lungs.
Once prostate cancer has been treated, the PSA levels (a type of protein produced by the prostate gland) drop drastically. However, if the levels rise again, it could indicate that cancer has returned. Some recurrent prostate cancer signs include blood in the urine, difficulty urinating, continuous fatigue, pain in the lower back, difficulty breathing, and jaundice. If one observes any of these symptoms, they should discuss with a doctor and understand if regular PSA checks are required.
Risk factors for prostate cancer
Besides understanding the prostate cancer signs, one should be aware of the disease’s risk factors. If one falls under multiple categories mentioned below, they should be extra cautious about the signs:
Old age: The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. The disease is more common among men over 50.
Race: Research suggests that the risk is higher among African American men than people of other races.
Family history: If someone’s immediate family member has prostate cancer, their risk increases as well.
Excess body fat: People with a high body fat percentage are more susceptible than those with a healthy weight.
It is important to note that prostate cancer may not be severe if restricted to the prostate gland. However, when it spreads to nearby organs, it might get aggressive and require immediate treatment. The chances of recovery are high when prostate cancer is detected early or when the harmful cells are confined to the prostate area. Still, prognosis depends on the stage of cancer and the age and health of the patient. The most sought-after treatments for the disease include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and immunotherapy.