According to the National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men (after skin cancer). The term “prostate cancer” refers to any cancer that starts in the prostate gland. What is the prostate gland? It is a walnut-sized gland near the penis and bladder that produces semen.
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. That means it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of getting a prostate exam after age 50.
This type of cancer usually lasts a very long time and usually has few symptoms. According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, many of the symptoms associated with cancer can indicate benign conditions such as prostate hypertrophy or, in the short term, BPH. However, some forms of aggressive prostate cancer grow quickly, so tell your doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Weak or stagnant flow of urine – If you are having trouble urinating, it could be a sign of an enlarged prostate, a tumor, or cancer.
- Frequent Urination – Finding yourself needing to urinate frequently, especially at night, may not be just a nuisance.
- Burning and Pain When Urinating – Many different conditions can cause pain and burning when urinating, including prostatitis and cancer infections.
- Blood in urine or semen – If you notice blood in your urine or semen, see your doctor immediately.
- Hip or Pelvic Pain – Your hip or pelvic pain can have many causes, but if there is no specific cause, such as a recent injury, it could be a prostate problem.
- Painful Ejaculation – Painful ejaculation is a troublesome symptom and you should consult a doctor or urologist.
- Erectile Dysfunction – Erectile dysfunction is a common condition among older men and can be a symptom of prostate disease or cancer.
If you are older than 65, are of African descent, or have other risk factors for prostate cancer, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any symptoms. While something other than cancer may explain your symptoms, it’s best to find out that the disease can be treated if needed. Fortunately, most prostate cancers are treatable or curable if detected early.
Prostate diseases like cancer are a concern, but you can be proactive by talking to your doctor about your risk factors and taking steps to reduce your cancer risk.