Prostate cancer usually doesn’t produce any significant symptoms until it has progressed to an advanced stage. When symptoms do occur, they depend on how advanced the cancer is and how far it has spread. Although there is no cure for advanced prostate cancer, there are treatments that can help control symptoms.
Prostate cancer is very common, affecting approximately one out of six men in the United States. Most types of prostate cancer progress slowly and remain confined to the prostate gland for an extended period of time. These types require very little, if any, treatment. Other types of prostate cancer are very aggressive and spread quickly. What causes prostate cancer and why some types behave differently are unknown.
Most men do not experience symptoms during the early stages of prostate cancer. When symptoms are present, they usually involve urinary problems. Difficulty urinating, trouble starting and stopping the stream, and diminished force in the stream are symptoms experienced by some during the early stages of prostate cancer. However, these same urinary symptoms are much more likely to be caused by benign prostate conditions, such as an enlarged prostate or a prostate infection.
Symptoms that indicate cancer in the prostate or in the area around the prostate include blood in the semen or urine, difficulty having an erection and painful ejaculation. Symptoms of prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes in the pelvis include swelling in the legs and pain or discomfort in the pelvic region. Symptoms of advanced prostate cancer that has spread to the bones include bone pain that doesn’t subside, bone fractures and spinal compression. Fatigue and weight loss are other common symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.
As with most cancers, the key to survival of prostate cancer is early detection and treatment. Because symptoms aren’t usually present until it reaches an advanced stage, it is imperative that men undergo routine screening for prostate cancer. The two most common screening tests are the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and the digital rectal exam (DRE).
Treatments for prostate cancer have greatly improved in recent years. The cancer has over a 90 percent cure rate if detected and treated early. It is very important that men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer take a proactive role in its treatment and management.