Prostate Cancer Symptoms: What To Watch Out For

Cancer of the prostate, the walnut-sized gland located below the bladder, is the most common non-skin cancer affecting men in the United States. Estimates for 2018 alone reveal around 164,690 new cases of prostate cancer and 29,430 associated deaths.

"A simple rectal exam which takes less than a minute and a yearly PSA blood test starting at age 40 are good screening tools urologists use to detect any changes in the prostate gland," writes Dr. David Samadi, chairman of Urology and chief of Robotic Surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. But in recent years, to avoid certain downsides, it is recommended that men speak to doctors carefully when considering a screening.

Age and race are considered risk factors since older men and African-American men are more likely to be affected than others. While the cancer is easily treatable if detected and diagnosed in early stages, experts note that symptoms (namely the following) of the disease tend to occur later.

Bladder control problems

Losing control over your bladder (known as urinary incontinence) can be a sign of problems with the prostate. Cancer can lead to enlargement and weakening of the prostate, which in turn can block the urethra. 

The process of eliminating urine from the body becomes more difficult and more erratic, as a result. Some signs include strain, leakage, a decrease in force, an overactive bladder, and the feeling of incomplete urination.

Pain in the pelvic area

Shooting pain in the pelvic area which feels like a sharp stab should be checked out — this could be a sign of neuropathic pain i.e. when the nerves are being attacked by cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, pain or tightness occurring in areas like the hips, lower back, and chest could indicate that the cancer is spreading to the bones. 

Feeling numbness in the legs or feet, it notes, might be a result of the cancer pressing on the spinal cord. But in most cases, body pain alone is not a cause for concern. The possibility of the symptom being linked to prostate cancer is relatively rare, especially compared to other causes like poor posture.

Blood in semen, urine

If you spot blood when urinating or ejaculating — known as hematuria and hematospermia respectively — it is important to get checked out by a doctor as soon as possible, says James Wysock, M.D., a urologic oncologist and assistant professor of urology at New York University Langone Health.

It need not be excessive as even a pinkish tint could be an early sign of a problem. If not prostate cancer, it may have been caused by a urinary tract infection, kidney stones, a sexually transmitted disease, blood clotting, or inflammation.