Be on the lookout for these potential signs of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in men, and the second-leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The tricky thing about prostate cancer is that it’s often silent for years, with no early symptoms, says Dr. Osei-Tutu Owusu, MD, a hematologist and oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Akron General’s McDowell Cancer Institute. That's why prostate cancer screening, which can involve a blood test called a PSA test or a rectal exam, can be an important tool for early detection, Dr. Owusu adds. “The earlier you catch it, the easier it is to treat and eradicate.”
Whether all men should be screened, and how often, has been a controversial topic in recent years. The general recommendation is to start at age 50 since the disease mostly affects older men, says Dr. Owusu, but talk to your physician about when it makes sense to start and how often you should do it, since those decisions can be impacted by many factors. For men who fall into a higher risk category (including black men and those with a family history of the disease), it may be better to start screening at 40.
No matter what you decide about screening, there are some potential symptoms of prostate cancer all men should be aware of. Many of these symptoms can be signs of other conditions, like urinary tract infections, prostatitis, or benign prostatic enlargement, so don't assume they mean you have cancer, especially if you're young, says Dr. Owusu. Still, if you notice any of these symptoms, get checked out by a doctor. Here’s what to look out for:
“You’ll feel like you need to go more and more between regular trips,” says Dr. Owusu.
The sensation that you need to pee will become very heightened and urgent, Dr. Owusu says.
Waking up to pee at night
You’ll notice that at night you have to get up several times to go to the bathroom.
This could mean you feel like you need to pee, but there’s hesitation or pain when you start and urine doesn’t come out freely, or it could mean you have to strain to pee, especially at the end of the stream, says Dr. Owusu.
This means it takes a long time for you to pass all your urine, says Dr. Owusu, and it may come out slowly in drops. “That might be a heralding sign that there’s something wrong with the prostate,” he says.
Moving urine stream
“The stream moves from one side to the other; it’s not a single stream,” says Dr. Owusu. “That may also be something that you want to look at.”
Blood in urine
This can be an early sign of prostate cancer and many other issues, and should always be checked out immediately, says Dr. Owusu.
Changes in erection or ejaculation
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, difficulty getting an erection, as well as a decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated and painful ejaculation, could be early signs of prostate cancer.
Pain in the bones (limbs or pelvis)
This can be a sign that prostate cancer has spread to the bones.