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Prostate cancer: Doctor outlines symptoms you might experience

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Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among men in the UK. It affects around one in eight men in their lifetime. Like any disease, the earlier you spot the signs of prostate cancer the sooner you can get them checked and potentially treated.

Jeremy Oates, consultant urological surgeon at The Christie Private Care in Manchester, explained more.

He said: “It mainly affects men over the age of 50, and the risk increases as you grow older.

“Many men actually have a type of prostate cancer that doesn’t require treatment and can be very safely monitored, though some do have disease that requires intervention.

“Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way.

“The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut and is found at the base of the bladder, with the water pipe or urethra passing through it. In the early stages of prostate cancer, symptoms can be difficult to spot.

“Symptoms tend to only become noticeable once the prostate has become enlarged enough to press on the urethra.”

Some early warning signs can include:

  • Passing urine more frequently, zebeta and alcohol particularly at night
  • Feeling like your bladder has not fully emptied
  • A weak flow when you urinate
  • A sudden need to urinate, sometimes leaking urine before you get to the toilet.

“These symptoms are mostly due to a normal, non-cancerous growth of the prostate which occurs in all men as they get older, but tests are required to be sure there is no other cause,” he said.

“Therefore, if you experience any of the urinary symptoms listed above, or notice any other changes to your urinary habits, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.”

However, there are some more “unusual” signs to look for that could signal a more “advanced” prostate cancer.

This includes a dull ache in the back, hip and pelvis.

“If the cancer has spread to surrounding areas, such as the bones in the hips and pelvis, it could be causing pain in the form of a dull ache, or sharp stabbing sensations,” Mr Oates said.

Other signs it could be more advanced are:

  • Unexplained weight loss – while a sudden and noticeable change in weight can indicate a multitude of less serious things, is can also be a symptom of cancer
  • Painful ejaculation and blood in semen – these symptoms are less common, but can both be indicative of prostate cancer and should be investigated by a specialist.

Depending on your symptoms, your GP might do a PSA blood test (high levels of the protein in your blood can be an indicator of cancer) and examine your prostate gland, to determine if a referral to a specialist is required.

Increasingly, MRI scans are being used to assess the prostate for possible problems, though sometimes biopsies are required for further assessment.

Treatment options

Active surveillance, to monitor the cancer closely for growth then treat only when or if required.

Surgery to remove your prostate, normally done robotically via a keyhole approach.

Radiotherapy, which can be either external beam or via brachytherapy which involves implanting radioactive seeds directly into the prostate.

Ultrasound treatment, though this is not widely available in the UK.

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