Prostate Cancer Symptoms & Screening
While prostate cancer is not usually found in men under the age of 40, and is typically detected in men over 60, it’s important for all men to know the signs and symptoms. Prostate cancer screening tests can identify possible cancer development much sooner than symptoms appear for most men. Talk to your primary care physician about the right time to start prostate cancer screening based on your individual risk factors.
Recommendation for Prostate Screenings
Your best defense against prostate cancer is the PSA blood test which can lead to early detection, a critical part of being successfully treated. Recommendations for initiating testing for an elevated PSA vary based on age, history, and ethnicity. Current recommendations to start PSA testing include:
All men over the age of 50
African American men 45 years old or older
Men with a family history of prostate cancer at age 40
While PSA level testing is one option for screening, another screening is commonly performed at the same appointment. A digital rectal exam is conducted by your physician or other trained personnel so they can touch the prostate gland and identify any nodules, lumps, or hardness in the prostate. If anything is detected during this exam, then your doctor will suggest further testing such as a biopsy.
If you have been recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, it’s critical to personally research prostate cancer treatment options to make an informed decision that is best for you and your family. And, with few exceptions, your first treatment method gives you the best chance for success.
Common Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly and doesn’t tend to cause any symptoms until it’s at a more advanced stage. However, there are some types of prostate cancer that grow aggressively and can spread quickly causing a sudden onset of symptoms. These symptoms may also appear if the cancer has been growing for a while without treatment.
- Pain or burning while urinating
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination and/or straining to empty bladder
- Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
- Blood in the urine or in semen
- Recent trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED)
- Painful ejaculation
- Discomfort when sitting (caused by an enlarged prostate)
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
- Loss of bladder control
- Pain or pressure in the lower back, hips, testicles, rectum or pelvis
Some Conditions Share Symptoms
Most of these problems can be the result of something other than prostate cancer. For example, urination issues could be related to benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), which is a non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate. Additionally, ED issues could be related to factors such as smoking, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or simply getting older.
All of these conditions are something that can be treated by a physician. If you're experiencing any of these it’s important to schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Regular screenings can help your doctor diagnose prostate cancer and direct you for treatment, if needed, with more positive outcomes. The American Cancer Society recommends that you start discussing prostate cancer screenings with your doctor somewhere between ages 40 and 50, depending on your personal risk factors and family history of this type of cancer. Together, you can decide what would be best for you.