The prostate is a small walnut size gland that secretes seminal fluid. In all healthy individuals, the prostate is a small soft structure that is often not palpable.
Sometimes the prostate can grow and become cancerous. Prostate cancer is one of the most common malignancies in men. It affects on average 8%-12% of men. It is curable in the early stages, but if the diagnosis is missed, it can rapidly spread.
The treatments for prostate cancer are varied and a number of them can affect the ability to control the bladder and also cause failure to sustain an erection. During the early stages, the cancer is confined to the prostate where it usually causes no problems. However, prostate cancer can vary in its aggressiveness and can spread rapidly in some individuals. In the last decade, both the treatment and prognosis of prostate cancer have significantly improved.
Common Signs and Symptoms
In the early stages, prostate cancer has no symptoms and this is one of the reasons why the cancer is commonly never detected in the early stages. When the cancer starts to grow the most common symptoms include:
- Difficulty with urination is a common problem and is almost always seen when the cancer has grown appreciably.
- Difficulty starting and stopping urination, as well as dribbling are common features of prostate cancer in the later stages.
- The force of urination also gets weaker as the cancer gets bigger.
- Some individuals may also complain of a minute amount of blood in the urine. The amount of blood is variable, but is never more than a few drops.
Rarely, some individuals may notice blood in the semen during sexual intercourse or masturbation. This can be alarming but the amount of blood is slight.
Other Signs & Symptoms
When Prostate cancer has spread to adjacent lymph nodes, other symptoms may include:
- Swelling in the legs, which may be gradual and does not improve. The swelling may be localized to one leg initially. This swelling is usually due to obstruction of blood in the veins and can lead to the formation of blood clots in the legs.
- Pain or discomfort is a common complaint during the latter stages of the cancer. The pain may be localized to the prostate, back or buttock area. Initially, the pain is mild but with time can become progressive and continuous.
As the cancer spreads to the bone, some individual may have severe back pain in the spine. In some cases, there may also be spinal fractures or symptoms of spinal compression