Prostate cancer is a malignancy of the prostate gland and is one of the most common cancers of the male reproductive system. 1 in 10 men develop prostate malignancy in their lifetime, so it is important for adult males to recognize the early signs of prostate cancer to gain early access to treatment. The early signs include frequent or painful urination, increased urination at nighttime, presence of blood in the urine, and sexual dysfunction. Most cases of early prostate cancer do not have symptoms, and are incidentally detected in a routine checkup as elevated prostate-specific antigen (PSA) findings.
This type of cancer has a slow course and usually does not produce symptoms until advanced. It is important for men, particularly those who have risk factors, to be aware of the signs of prostate cancer. The most important risk factor for prostate cancer is age, and over 70% of men with prostate cancer are 65 or older. Other risk factors include a family history of prostate cancer, smoking, African American heritage, and consumption of diet high in fat or chromium.
Anatomically, the prostate gland is located below the bladder and anterior to the rectum, surrounding the part of the urethra called the prostatic urethra. Urine from the urinary bladder passes through the prostatic urethra before it can be emptied outside of the body. The size of the prostate is normally likened to a walnut. When there is a malignancy in the prostate, whether it is an adenocarcinoma or a sarcoma, the prostate enlarges or the cancer spreads to the adjacent structures. This leads to urinary obstruction, causing the typical signs of prostate cancer.
The urinary signs of prostate cancer include difficulty in urination, increased frequency of urination, pain in urination, and blood in the urine or hematuria. Difficulty in urination may manifest as dribbling or the urge to urinate despite no urine coming out. Increased frequency of urination may manifest as nocturia, wherein a person feels compelled to wake up at night because of the need to urinate. Pain in urination may be due to the malignancy putting pressure on the urethra. The sexual dysfunction signs of prostate cancer include erectile dysfunction, difficulty in ejaculation, and presence of blood in the semen.
When a man suffers from these symptoms, it is important to consult a physician as soon as possible. If it is not controlled and treated at its early stage, prostate cancer can spread to the bones, lungs, and other organs, leading to weight loss, fractures, nerve compression, anemia, and kidney failure. Several treatment options for prostate cancer include radiotherapy, hormone agonists, androgen deprivation therapy, and palliative therapy.