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Prostate Cancer Signs and Symptoms:  Importance of Early Detection | Max Hospital

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Recognizing Prostate Cancer Signs and Symptoms: Importance of Early Detection

By Dr. Tushar Aditya Narain in Robotic Surgery , Urology , Cancer Care / Oncology , Uro-Oncology , Surgical Oncology

Jun 14 , 2024 | 2 min read

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Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men worldwide, and while it may not always manifest noticeable symptoms in its early stages, understanding the common signs and the importance of early detection is critical for better outcomes and survival rates.

Common Symptoms and Signs of Prostate Cancer 

  • Urinary Changes: Changes in urinary habits are often among the earliest signs of prostate cancer. These changes may include:
    •   Frequent urination, especially at night.
    •   Difficulty starting or stopping urination
    •   Weak or interrupted urine flow.
    •   Pain or burning during urination.
    •   Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Erectile Dysfunction: Prostate cancer affects a man's ability to achieve or maintain an erection, which leads to erectile dysfunction. While this is a common condition for various reasons, it can be a sign of underlying prostate issues, including cancer.
  • Pelvic Pain: Discomfort and pain in the pelvic area, lower back, hips, or upper thighs can sometimes be associated with advanced prostate cancer that has spread to nearby tissues and bones.
  • Bone Pain: If prostate cancer metastasizes (spreads) to the bones, it can cause bone pain. This pain is often concentrated in the back, hips, or ribs and may worsen at night.

Noting these symptoms can also help indicate non-cancerous conditions like urinary tract infections and BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). However, if you experience any persistent or concerning symptoms, it's crucial to consult with a doctor for a proper evaluation and diagnosis.

The Importance of Early Detection

Here's why it matters:

  • Increased Treatment Options: Detecting prostate cancer early allows for a wider range of treatment options. These can include surgery, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and watchful waiting (active surveillance). The choice of treatment depends on the stage and aggressiveness of the cancer, as well as the patient's general health.
  • Improved Survival Rates: When diagnosed at an early, localized stage, the five-year survival rate of prostate cancer is close to 100%. However, if cancer spreads to other parts of the body, survival rates drop significantly. It underscores the importance of early detection and intervention.
  • Reduced Risk of Complications: Advanced prostate cancer can lead to complications such as bone fractures, urinary problems, and other health issues. Early detection and treatment help prevent and manage these complications.
  • Quality of Life: Early detection can help preserve a man's quality of life. Aggressive treatment options like surgery or radiation therapy may be less invasive and have fewer side effects when the cancer is caught in its early stages.

Screening for Early Detection

Prostate cancer screening primarily involves two tests:

  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests measure the level of a protein called PSA produced by the prostate gland. Elevated PSA levels could be a sign of prostate cancer, but they can also result from non-cancerous conditions. A high PSA level may prompt further evaluation, including a prostate biopsy.
  • Digital Rectal Examination (DRE): In this physical exam, a doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger in the rectum to feel the prostate for abnormalities. Although it's not as sensitive as the PSA test, the DRE can help detect some prostate cancers.

Discuss the benefits and potential risks of prostate cancer screening with your doctor, especially if you have risk factors such as a family history of the disease.

In conclusion, recognizing the common symptoms and signs of prostate cancer and understanding the importance of early detection can save lives. Men should prioritize regular check-ups and screenings, especially as they age or if they have risk factors. Remember that early detection offers the best chance for effective treatment and improved outcomes in the fight against prostate cancer.