Prostate cancer presents with no particular signs and symptoms, which can be identified easily, by the patient himself. Thus this makes this condition quite different from other cancers such as that of the breast or the testes, in which a regular self examination by the patient facilitates in the identification of early manifestations of the disease.
Some of the most commonly found unique signs and symptoms of prostate cancer: In general, prostate cancer is often associated with a number of exclusive symptoms. The main reason for this, is the location of the prostate glands in males. The location of the prostate is in the lower pelvis, just below the urinary bladder. During the act of urination, urine empties from the bladder, and it passes through a slender tube known as the urethra. Just as the urine leaves the bladder, at the very commencement of the urethra, it passes directly through the prostate. With the enlargement of the prostate due to cancer, pressure is exerted on the urethra making it firm and tight within the prostate. With the narrowing of the urethra, urine has a great difficulty making its way through the urethra and out of the body. As a result of this, four basic urinary symptoms are found in prostate cancer:
1. Frequency, that is passing of urine much more repeatedly than normal.
2. Urgency, that is having a sense that you need to pass out urine instantly.
3. Nocturia, that is getting up to pass out urine several times at night.
4. Hesitancy, that is having problem to start the urine stream.
All of these manifestations are caused by the strain on the urethra caused by the enlarged prostate.
A few other lesser common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer: Apart from the above-mentioned urinary symptoms, which are undeniably the most common symptoms experienced by men with this illness. But, these are not the only ones. Other lesser common signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are as follows:
1. Presence of blood in the urine, the medical term of which is hematuria.
2. Presence of blood in the semen.
3. Erectile dysfunction, which is a sign of impotence.
4. Bone pain, especially, in the lower back(spine), hips, or ribs(chest).
5. Loss of adequate control of urinary bladder.
6. Following the spread of the cancer to the bones of the spine, especially in advanced stage of the disease, sometimes pressure can be exerted on the spinal cord and spinal nerves, resulting in weakness or numbness in the lower limbs or feet
7. Sometimes, swelling in the legs, and discomfort in the pelvic area, especially in advanced stage of the cancer.
But, you should understand that, these signs and symptoms are less definitive disorders in the prostate. This means that diseases in other organs like the urinary bladder, can also cause similar manifestations. Nonetheless, these are vital symptoms that you should be aware of.
The ideal time to consult your health provider: You can fix an appointment with your doctor for a consultation, and explain your state following the first time you begin to experience any of these above-mentioned symptoms. This is mandatory especially, in any men above the age of 40 years; because the vast percentage of prostate cancers are diagnosed after that age only. It is also very important especially for the men belonging to the African and American ethnic race; and also those who have got a family history of prostate cancer, as the incidence rate of prostate cancer is quite high in these two groups of people.
The time interval between the diagnosis of prostate cancer and the onset of symptoms in the majority of men: You will be surprised to know that, in the majority of men, the diagnosis of prostate cancer is made in the recent days, when the patient practically has no symptoms at all. The reason for this is, the development of the recent Prostate Specific Antigen test, abbreviated as the PSA test, this condition is detected in most men even before they happen to develop any significant manifestations.
The signs of prostate cancer that can be assessed by your health provider: Your health provider can perform a digital rectal examination, and feel the texture and consistency of your prostate. This is so because, the posterior wall of your prostate being very close to your rectum, your prostate can be easily felt through the slender, soft wall of the rectum. Hence, when your health provider inserts a finger into your rectum, the back as well as the sides of your prostate can be felt. This procedure of examination of the prostate is known as a digital rectal examination, abbreviated as DRE. In prostate cancer, this digital rectal examination shows evidence of hard and firm nodules in the prostate, or an irregularly shaped prostate.
The majority of prostate cancers do not produce any physical signs which can be palpated by DRE. The meaning of this is that, a normal DRE does not confirm the absence of this cancer. You should also remember that, if a DRE is performed on the same patient by different health providers, even on the same day, one immediately following another, they may arrive at different conclusions about their findings in the digital rectal examination. As a digital rectal examination is not always helpful, certain laboratory tests are more reliable, amongst which the most notable one is the PSA test.
The significance of this PSA test: The PSA test is a simple blood test which helps in the detection of a specific protein, which is produced by the prostate; and is detected at high levels in your semen. Normally, it is found in the blood, at very low levels. But in males with prostate cancer, the normal barricades which usually prevent the quantity of PSA from entering into the blood, are damaged. This, associated with the enlargement of The prostate leads to the leakage of greater amounts of PSA from the prostate into the bloodstream. This is reflected as an elevation in the PSA levels in the blood, in this type of cancer.