February 3, 2023
February 3, 2023

What Are Potential Signs of Prostate Cancer?

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What Are Potential Signs of Prostate Cancer?

Key takeaways:

  • Prostate cancer is a disease that all men must take seriously, especially those older than 50 years old.
  • The American Cancer Society estimated about 191,930 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in 2020.
  • An early diagnosis of prostate cancer can mean a nearly 100% survival rate.
  • For men at least 50 years old, annual screening for prostate cancer could detect the danger at an early stage, when it is still curable.

In the U.S., about one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime. One in 41 Americans will likely die from the disease.

The best way to increase your chances of surviving cancer is to catch it early. The Cancer Treatment Centers of America lists various signs of prostate cancer you can look out for.

What Is the Prostate?

The prostate is a male organ the size of a small walnut. Its purpose mainly relates to reproduction. The prostate secretes seminal fluid volume, which contains minerals like zinc and electrolytes necessary for sperm activity.

The prostate is located just in front of the bladder and surrounds the urethra. This is why, as men advance in age, their prostate enlarges, leading to symptoms like difficulty to urinate.

Its proximity to the rectum means a digital rectal exam can detect abnormal growths and texture changes in the prostate gland.

This enlargement of the prostate may manifest benign prostatic hyperplasia, an inflammation called prostatitis, or prostate cancer.

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a dysregulated proliferation of prostate cells. The organ grows in an uncontrolled manner and applies pressure on the surrounding tissue. This disturbance causes unusual discomfort plus the signs and symptoms listed below.

What Are the Symptoms and Warning Signs of Prostate Cancer?

While prostate cancer is typically asymptomatic, early warning signs of the disease may relate to urinary symptoms because of how close the prostate gland is to the bladder and urethra.

A prostate tumor could compress your urethra, thereby constraining the flow of urine.

A variety of symptoms may occur as a result:

  • Blood in the semen or urine
  • Painful ejaculation or urination
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Decreased urine flow
  • Trouble urinating
  • Increased urge to urinate at night time
  • Difficulty starting or stopping while urinating

At a late stage, other potential issues occur. Prostate cancer can metastasize – or spread – to tissues and bones in the surrounding area. If this happens, symptoms may include:

  • Pain or numbness in your legs, feet, hips, and lower back
  • Swelling in your pelvic area or legs
  • Bone pain that doesn’t let up or even causes fractures
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes

What Is My Risk of Prostate Cancer?

The risk factors in developing cancer of the prostate are:

  • Family history: If you have one or more family members diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk increases.
  • Gene changes: Mutations in specific inherited genes may cause prostate cancer. Intriguingly, the BRCA2 gene, known to play a major role in breast and ovarian cancer, could also be involved in the risk of prostate cancer development.
  • Age: If you are over 50 years old, your risk of developing prostate cancer increases every year. Six out of 10 cases are diagnosed after age 65.
  • Ethnicity: You are more likely to develop prostate cancer if you are African American.
  • Geography: If you are from North America, Europe, and Australia, your prostate cancer risk is higher than for those from Asia, Africa, and South America.

How Can You Prevent Prostate Cancer?

Signs of prostate cancer: Man in a plaid shirt smiling

Let’s be honest. There is no proven method to prevent prostate cancer. But there are multiple ways to reduce your risk:

  • You can eat healthy with a low-fat diet and an increased amount of fruits and veggies. If you like eating in between meals, fruits and whole grains are the best snacks to choose from. Also, cut back on dairy. Men who eat a lot of cheese, yogurt, and milk have a higher risk of prostate cancer.
  • Maintain a normal body mass index (BMI<30). Obese men are at risk of prostate cancer.
  • Exercise regularly. At least 30 minutes of exercise every day could decrease your risk of cancer.

Being proactive could help to unveil cancer at an early stage when it is more treatable.

Cancer treatment options like chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and radiotherapy have improved in the past decades, thanks to innovative cancer research. However, treatments show better results when the tumor is still young. That’s why screening is the best way to take control of your health.

Prostate Cancer Screening Recommendations

Health agencies like the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute strongly recommend prostate cancer screening, especially for those over age 50.

Early detection of prostate cancer leads to a nearly 100% survival rate five years after diagnosis, while an advanced prostate cancer would have only a 31% survival rate.

While it’s undoubtedly important to be on the lookout for potential signs or symptoms, your best bet is to be vigilant via regular prostate cancer screening.

1. PSA Tests

Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests potentially show you if you’re at risk for prostate cancer. The prostate cells secrete the PSA. It can be found in the semen and also in the blood.

When the PSA concentration increased, it is likely the number of prostate cells increased too. It could indicate an enlarged prostate, thus potential cancer.

However, these PSA tests are only about 21% accurate, as elevated PSA levels can also indicate a slew of other, non-life-threatening conditions such as prostatitis or benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH).

For this reason, it makes sense to look at other exams first.

2. Digital Rectum Exam (DRE)

A DRE is a brief and painless exam of the prostate gland. Your doctor will palp the back of the prostate by inserting a gloved and lubricated finger in your rectum. Like this, your doctor can determine any abnormalities and direct you toward further exams if necessary.

3. MRI

An MRI is the best way to detect prostate cancer. Such imaging technique allows the doctor to:

  • See the prostate and look for any abnormalities without causing any discomfort.
  • Look for any spread of cancer on other organs when the cancer is already advanced and metastases traveled via blood circulation.
Recommended reading: What does an MRI show, and how does it work?

How Ezra Can Help You

Signs of prostate cancer: Woman hugging her father and smiling
Here at ezra, you can get a full-body MRI exam with us.

In less than 60 minutes, you can check up to 13 organs for cancer including the prostate. This helps you and your healthcare team screen for potential early cancer and early disease.

Ask your doctor if you are eligible for cancer screening, and start your screening with us. Make an appointment.