Prostate Cancer Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Prostate Cancer 101
Being diagnosed with any disease can be scary. But with early detection and proper treatment over 90% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer survive, which serves as a reminder to men to keep an eye on their body for possible changes to their health.
To understand this disease, it is important to know about the prostate itself: The prostate is a walnut-sized organ, which is located in front of a man’s rectum and below the bladder. Part of the reproductive system, it helps produce semen.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the gland grow uncontrollably, leading to a malignant tumour. According to the Marie Keating Foundation and the Irish Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in Ireland.
One in eight men will be affected by the disease and more than 3,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer yearly. However, treatment advances such as brachytherapy, which is available at UPMC Hillman Cancer Centre at UPMC Whitfield Hospital, mean prostate cancer also has one of the best survival rates of all cancers.
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
- Age: Men over 50 years old have an increased risk of prostate cancer
- Family history: There is an increased risk if a family member had prostate cancer
- Genetic changes: A small percentage of cases of prostate cancer are due to gene changes such as the BRCA mutations and Lynch syndrome
- A previous cancer: Studies have shown men who have had kidney cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, thyroid cancer, or melanoma skin cancer may have a slightly increased risk of getting prostate cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
So, you’re a man over the age of 50. What should you keep an eye out for?
Unfortunately, if you’re in the early stages of prostate cancer, you may not notice anything different at all. This is why it is important to talk to your GP about prevention and screening methods, such as the PSA blood test.
Advanced disease symptoms include:
- Blood in semen or urine
- Erectile dysfunction
- Trouble urinating (frequent urination, need to urinate, or slow stream)
- Hip, spine, or rib pain
- Numbness in feet and legs
- Loss of bowel control or bladder control
If you have any of these symptoms, you should talk to your GP right away. However, just because you have one of these problems does not mean you definitely have prostate cancer. Many men who have occurrences such as the ones listed above are diagnosed with a benign growth.