What are the early warning symptoms of prostate cancer? There aren’t any.  Truly, there are no early warning symptoms for prostate cancer.

That’s why screening is so important – for a doctor to feel a rough or hard spot on your prostate during a physical exam, or for your level of PSA to start going up. This is also why it is very important to get a baseline PSA test in your forties.

Why no symptoms? Because prostate cancer hardly ever starts in the most convenient part of the prostate for symptoms to occur, near the urethra (the tube that carries urine through the prostate and into the penis). For many years, the disease is silent. Symptoms tend to come later, if the cancer has grown big enough to change the way you urinate – if, for instance, you have trouble starting your urine flow, or you can barely make it to the bathroom in time. But that’s difficult, too, because every symptom of advanced prostate cancer could be mistaken for something else.

And every symptom could also be caused by another problem in the prostate: prostatitis or BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia, also known as enlargement of the prostate).   With prostatitis and BPH, symptoms tend to develop right around the urethra. The prostate wraps around the urethra like a fist holding a straw; if that fist starts to clench, you will know it pretty quickly because you’ll have trouble urinating.

What about difficulty in having an erection? Again, this is most likely not caused by cancer, but by something else, such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, or just plain getting older.

That said: Symptoms are symptoms, and no matter what’s causing them, you should get them checked out by a doctor. They include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night; sometimes urgently
  • Difficulty starting or holding back urination
  • Weak, dribbling, or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • A decrease in the amount of fluid ejaculated
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs

These symptoms can also indicate the presence of other diseases or disorders, such as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis, you should undergo a thorough work-up to determine the underlying cause.

Terms to know from this article:

PSA

prostate-specific antigen (PSA): A substance produced by the prostate that may be found in an increased amount in the blood of men who have prostate cancer, benign prostatic hyperplasia, or infection or inflammation of the prostate.

BPH

see benign prostatic hyperplasia

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