The unfortunate fact about prostate cancer is that it does not show symptoms in its early stages of development. That is why prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States.
Symptoms to Be Aware Of
Because of the prostate’s proximity to a male’s genitalia, urinary symptoms are common with prostate cancer. As the tumor on the prostate begins to grow, it may begin to press against the bladder and/or urethra, causing:
- Pain and burning during urination
- Difficulty starting or stopping urine flow
- Bladder control issues
- Frequent and sudden urges to urinate, especially at night
- Decreased urine flow
- Bloody urine
Symptoms that don’t affect urine flow include:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pain when ejaculating
- Blood in semen
- Swelling in the pelvic area
Stages of Prostate Cancer
Most doctors use the TNM system to determine which stage the prostate cancer is in.
Tumor: A doctor will use the size and location of the tumor to give the tumor a number score. If no tumor is found, it is categorized as T0. If a tumor is present, it will be given a score from T1 to T4 – 1 being the smallest and 4 being the largest.
Nodes: Lymph nodes are spread throughout the body and are vital in fighting infection. A doctor will determine if the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes that are located near your bladder. If the nodes aren’t affected, a score of N0 is given, if cancer is present, it is classified as N1.
Metastasis: This category determines how far the cancer has spread. There are several subsets of this categorization which indicate if the cancer has spread to the bones, organs, or distant lymph nodes.
Get Screened Regularly
Because symptoms don’t develop until the later stages of prostate cancer, regular screenings are vital. The frequency of exams depends on each person’s prostate cancer risk level. For men who are higher risk, a digital rectal exam should be performed each year, while men who are at average risk should receive one every other year.