Prostate Cancer Symptoms Aren't Always Obvious

Prostate Cancer Symptoms Aren't Always Obvious

Although about 1 in 7 men will be eventually be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime, the warning signs of the disease are often vague and may be confused with other conditions, experts at Fox Chase Cancer Center say.

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Prostate cancer can be serious but it's often not fatal. Men should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of getting screened for the disease, advised Dr. Alexander Kutikov, chief of the division of urologic oncology at Fox Chase in Philadelphia.

"Considering how often prostate cancer occurs in men, every man should familiarize himself with its signs and risk factors," Kutikov said in a center news release.

"Yet, not all men should be screened for prostate cancer. Ultimately, the decision to get screened needs to be weighed in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of screening. Men should familiarize themselves with the trade-offs of prostate cancer screening and discuss both their risk factors and personal preferences with a provider whom they trust," he said.

Prostate cancer symptoms may be confused with signs of other common but noncancerous disorders, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia, Kutikov said.

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Trouble starting to urinate.
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine.
  • Urinating more often, particularly during the night.
  • Trouble emptying the bladder.
  • Pain or burning during urination.
  • Bloody urine or semen.
  • Painful ejaculation.
  • Chronic pain in the back, hips or pelvis.

Some men are at greater risk for prostate cancer. Those who are older are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease.

Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40 years old but once they reach 50, the risk increases. Nearly 6 out of 10 men with prostate cancer are older than 65 years old, the Fox Chase specialists said.

Black men are more likely than men of other races and ethnicities to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and die from the disease, Kutikov said. Black men are also more likely to develop advanced disease and have the condition at a younger age, he said.

Genetics may also play a role in why some men develop prostate cancer, Kutikov added. Men whose father or brother have the disease are more than twice as likely to also be diagnosed, he said. The risk increases if several family members are affected and if these men were diagnosed at a younger age.

Men who are 55 and older should discuss their risk factors for prostate cancer with their doctor and determine if screening is right for them.

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"I encourage patients to educate themselves about the issue of screening, as it is quite complex," said Kutikov.

More information

The American Cancer Society provides more information on prostate cancer.


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