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6 symptoms of prostate cancer all men should know

Prostate cancer kills 240,000 men yearly. Be aware about its key symptoms before it's too late.

Prostate cancer is a common form of cancer that occurs in men above 60 years of age. Globally, it is the 2nd most common form of cancer diagnosed in men, and accounts for about 240,000 deaths yearly. In India, the prevalence is low compared to western countries but with changing lifestyle, more and more men are at an increased risk of suffering from prostate cancer.

One of the most challenging aspects about this disease is that it progresses very slowly and may take years until the actual signs start developing, which, in some cases might be after the disease has progressed to a great extent. Unfortunately, those who develop signs of the disease fail to recognise them as a problem, and avoid telling their family or doctor due to embarrassment. This leads to further delay in diagnosis and treatment, giving an opportunity for the cancerous cells to spread to different organs in the body.

Delayed start of urine stream: A slow start of urine stream that requires straining or additional force to expel urine out of the bladder is called hesitancy. This usually happens once the prostate gland begins to grow in size.

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Dribbling or leakage of urine: Sometimes, the cancer growth may be aggressive causing an enlarged gland that presses against the urethra slightly. So every time you urinate, some amount of residual urine may be left behind in the bladder, which keeps dribbling.

Inability to empty the bladder: If the urethra gets partially blocked due to the cancerous growth, all the urine may not be expelled. As the cancer progresses, inability to empty the bladder may also develop.

Blood in the urine or semen: The prostate gland is mainly responsible for production of fluid that serves as a swimming medium for sperms during ejaculation. When the cells in the gland become cancerous and proliferate, blood vessels may get damaged leading to bleeding. As a result, blood may be seen in urine and semen.

Frequent urination: With some amount of residual urine in the bladder, you may feel a persistent urge to urinate. Other factors like irritation of the urethra due to alterations in kidney function may also increase the urge to urinate.

Pain in the pelvic region: Pain is a primary symptom in cancer patients, and in prostate cancer about 62% of patient experience excruciating pain. It worsens in case the cancerous cells spread and colonise in the vascular areas of the skeleton. Most of the times, men may experience pain during an orgasm, when the actual function of prostate gland comes into the picture. In some cases, persistent pain in the front and back pelvic region may occur.

If you have any of these signs and symptoms, you should visit a urologist immediately and get yourself diagnosed.

References:

  • Christopher Lukas. Prostate Cancer: An Essential Guide for the Newly Diagnosed; Da Capo Press, 2005; p 266
  • Meredith Wallace, Lorrie L. Powel (E). Prostate Cancer: Nursing Assessment, Management, and Care; Springer Publishing Company, 2002; p224
  • A.D.A.M. medical encyclopedia [Internet] Prostate Cancer. Atlanta (GA): A.D.A.M. Inc.; Oct 2, 2013. [cited 2013 Oct 10]. c1997-2014


Image Source: Getty Images

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