Early signs of prostate cancer most men miss but shouldn’t
01. Prostate cancer is a common type of cancer in males
Prostate cancer is one of the leading cancers in men, with a 5-year survival rate of 64% in India alone. It commonly occurs in males aged 65 and above. However, there has been a rise in prostate cancer cases among the younger population in recent times.
Experts warn against delay in diagnosis and treatment, given that it can prove fatal and untreatable. Most often , the symptoms of prostate cancer are either ignored or neglected, leading to advanced stages of the cancer. That said, take a note of all the early signs of prostate cancer and do not mistake it for a benign illness.
02. What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a life-threatening condition that occurs in the prostate, which is a small walnut-shaped gland in males, which helps produce seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.
According to American Cancer Society (ACS), prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control.
Types of prostate cancer include:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumors (other than small cell carcinomas)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
Most prevalent from of prostate cancer is adenocarcinoma, which is a type of cancer that develops in the glands that line your prostate. Adenocarcinoma can also occur in breast, stomach, lung, pancreatic and colorectal cancers.
03. Most common signs of prostate cancer to note; might be mistaken with other illness
Given that the prostate gland is situated close to the bladder and the urethra, there is a high chance one may experience a range of urinary symptoms among others. This is common during the early stages of the cancer and depends on the size and location of the tumour. Some of the signs may include:
- Trouble or difficulty in urination
- Burning, pain or discomfort during urination
- Frequent urination at night
- Blood in the urine
- Blood in semen
- Loss of bladder control
- Erectile dysfunction (ED)
- Painful ejaculation
04. What happens when the cancer spreads outside of the prostate gland
In many cases, due to delayed diagnosis and treatment, the cancer may spread outside the prostate gland to other parts of the body, including the bones and the lymph nodes, causing more severe complications.
That said, signs of advanced or metastatic prostate cancer include:
- Swelling in legs or pelvic region
- Numbness or pain in the hips, legs or feet
- Bone pain that persists or leads to fractures
05. What younger men need to know about prostate cancer
The average age for a first prostate cancer diagnosis is 68. However, men can also develop prostate cancer at a younger age.
Globally, there’s been an increase in early onset prostate cancer in men aged between 15 and 40.
That said, understanding your risk factors, going for regular screenings and knowing the signs and symptoms of the disease can help in early diagnosis.
Doctors believe a prostate cancer diagnosis in younger men is likely to be more advanced, with a lower chance of survival, than a prostate cancer diagnosis in older men.
06. Prostate cancer among Indian men
Around the world, prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer and the sixth leading cause of cancer death among men.
According to data from national population based cancer registries, prostate is the second leading site of cancer among males in large Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkatta, Pune and Thiruvananthapuram, third leading site of cancer in cities like Bangalore and Mumbai and it is among the top ten leading sites of cancers in the rest of the population.
07. Who is at greater risk?
causes prostate cancer. However, doctors know that prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate develop changes in their DNA, says the health body.
The abnormal cells are what form a tumor that spreads and attacks the nearby tissues.
But while causes of this condition are not fully known, there are certain factors that can indicate who is more at risk of the cancer.
Old age, a family history of cancer and obesity are some of the risk factors of prostate cancer. Your unhealthy lifestyle habits are also to blame. Experts believe choosing a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight can reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
08. What are the test options available?
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), these groups of people should get themselves tested for prostate cancer.
– Men aged 50 or older who have an average risk of prostate cancer and a life expectancy of at least 10 more years
– Men aged 45 or older with a high risk, including African-American men and those with a first-degree relative (brother or father) who had prostate cancer before age 65
– Men aged 40 or older who have a higher risk, such as more than one first-degree relative diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age
The Mayo Clinic recommends getting a digital rectal exam (DRE) or a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to diagnose whether or not you have prostate cancer.
You can also get an ultrasound, an MRI or undergo a prostate biopsy, where they will collect a tissue sample from your prostate.
09. Do not ignore signs of recurrent prostate cancer
Prostate cancer can also be recurrent, that means it can return after treatment. When it occurs again around the prostate, it is known as local recurrence. If it has spread to other parts, it is considered metastatic.
That said, the first sign of recurrent prostate cancer may be a rise in the Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) level.
Other symptoms include: Blood in urine, difficulty in urination, fatigue, lower back ache, jaundice.
If you have battled prostate cancer, continue going for screenings.
10. How to self-diagnose prostate cancer?
The best way to self-diagnose prostate cancer is by getting an at-home PSA blood test. You can always refer to list of symptoms that arise with the disease. If you feel something is out of order, see a physician for a digital rectal exam, wherein they will examine your prostates for any lumps.
11. How to reduce your risk of prostate cancer
Although there is no clinically proven way to lower prostate cancer risk, you can always make proper lifestyle choices to curb the risk.
Eating a low-fat diet, increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables, reducing the amount of daily dairy intake can improve your overall health reduce your risk of prostate cancer, says the Mayo Clinic.
Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and going for regular screening may minimize your risk considerably.
12. Can certain foods lower risk of prostate cancer?
Experts believe choosing a low-fat diet can reduce risk of prostate cancer in men.
According to the Mayo Clinic, some studies suggest men who ate the highest amount of fat each day had an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Having said that, the health body advices people to eat more of fruits and vegetables, while reducing the amount of dairy products.
13. Talk to your doctor
If you are at a very high risk of developing prostate cancer, then you can consult your doctor for medication or treatment options that can help to reduce the risk. Studies suggest there are certain doctor-recommended medications that may reduce your overall risk of developing prostate cancer. These drugs can help to control prostate gland enlargement.