Concerned about Prostate Cancer Symptoms?
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Prosate Cancer Symptoms

Prostate Cancer

male reproductive system showing prostate

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Most of the time, prostate cancer does not initially cause symptoms. By the time prostate symptoms do occur, the disease may have spread beyond the prostate. Prostate cancer symptoms may include the following:
  • Urinary problems:
    • Not being able to urinate.
    • Having a hard time starting or stopping the flow of urine.
    • Needing to urinate often, especially at night.
    • Weak flow of urine.
    • Urine flow that starts and stops.
    • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Difficulty having an erection.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Frequent pain in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs.
Although these symptoms can be symptoms of cancer, they are much more likely to be caused by noncancerous conditions. It is important to check with a doctor.

Prostate Cancer Diagnosis

Prostate cancer screening is looking for the disease before a person has any symptoms. Two screening tests commonly used to detect prostate cancer in the absence of symptoms are the digital rectal exam (DRE), in which a doctor feels the prostate through the rectum to find hard or lumpy areas, and a blood test that detects a substance made by the prostate called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Together, these tests can detect many "silent" prostate cancers that have not caused symptoms.

Due to the widespread use of PSA testing in the United States, approximately 90 percent of all prostate cancers are currently diagnosed at an early stage, and, consequently, men are surviving longer after diagnosis.

A diagnosis of prostate cancer can be confirmed only by biopsy. During a biopsy, a urologist (a doctor who specializes in diseases of urinary and sex organs in men, and urinary organs in women) removes tissue samples, usually with a needle. This is generally done in the doctor's office with local anesthesia. Then, a pathologist (a doctor who identifies diseases by studying tissues under a microscope) checks for cancer cells.

Men may have blood tests to see if the cancer has spread. Some men also may need the following imaging tests:

  • Bone scan: A doctor injects a small amount of a radioactive substance into a blood vessel, and it travels through the bloodstream and collects in the bones. A machine called a scanner detects and measures the radiation. The scanner makes pictures of the bones on a computer screen or on film. The pictures may show cancer that has spread to the bones.

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan: An x-ray machine linked to a computer takes a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Doctors often use CT scans to see the pelvis or abdomen and check for prostate signs.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): A strong magnet linked to a computer is used to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
Prostate cancer is described by both grade and stage.
  • Grade describes how closely the tumor resembles normal glandular tissue of the prostate. Based on the microscopic appearance of the tumor tissue, pathologists may describe it as low-, medium-, or high-grade cancer. One way of grading prostate cancer, called the Gleason system, uses scores of 2 to 10. Another system uses G1 through G4. In both systems, the higher the score, the higher the grade of the tumor. High-grade tumors generally grow more quickly and are more likely to spread than low-grade tumors.

  • Stage refers to the extent of the cancer. Early prostate cancer, stages I and II, is localized. It has not spread outside the prostate gland. Stage III prostate cancer, often called locally advanced disease, extends outside the gland and may be in the seminal vesicles. Stage IV means the cancer has spread beyond the seminal vesicles to lymph nodes and/or to other tissues or organs.

Call (847) 758-1230 today for an appointment and consultation with our physician.

Adapted from National Institutes of Health