Statistics reveal that more than eight in 10 men survive more than 10 years after a prostate cancer diagnosis and, if caught early, prostate cancer can be one of the most treatable cancers. However, recent data from Prostate Cancer UK has shown that prostate cancer referrals have almost halved since the pandemic began, with the UK recording their lowest number of urgent referrals in ten years. This is concerning UK urologists and oncologists as men who need help are not seeking it, and cases of prostate cancer are not being diagnosed. If cancer is diagnosed earlier, it is easier to treat with better outcomes. Over 11,000 men die of prostate cancer each year, with many of these deaths linked to late stage diagnosis because the disease has so few early warning signs. Christian Brown, Consultant Urological Surgeon at The Prostate Centre at Harley Street Clinic, part of HCA Healthcare UK spoke exclusively with Express.co.uk to discuss the eight main symptoms of prostate cancer for better education and alertness to a rising disease.
There are vital symptoms which can be an indicator of the disease, which if spotted early, could help more men receive life-saving treatment while the cancer is still in its early stages, said Christian.
Urinary symptoms can occur when the cancer grows near the urethra (the tube that runs through the prostate) and starts to press against it.
Christian explained: “If you do experience any of the urinary signs listed above, or notice a change in your urinary habits, such as difficulty in urinating or increased need to urinate, it is always best to seek medical advice straight away.”
It is often difficult to detect early stages of prostate cancer as there are often no symptoms. However, some men might notice urinary signs such as:
- Passing urine more frequently, particularly at night
- Feeling like your bladder has not fully emptied
- A weaker flow of urine and dribbling after you finish urinating
“These could all be early warning signs that something is wrong,” he added.
Blood in urine
A serious sign of prostate cancer is the presence of blood in urine, said Christian.
He said: “Known as ‘haematuria’, this could be a sign of a more advanced stage of the cancer so should never be ignored.
“Compared to a usual pale-yellow colour, if there is blood in the urine, it might have a darker red or pinkish hue.”
He continued: “Urine which contains blood can sometimes be very subtle and difficult to detect, so might go unnoticed for a long period of time.
“It is important to visit your GP as soon as you experience any urinary problem and a urine test can pick up traces of blood.
“Additionally, alongside prostate cancer, blood in urine can indicate other urological cancers including bladder cancer and infections, so it is always best to visit your GP or urologist if you experience any form of urinary problem.”
Back, hip and pelvic pain
Prostate cancer can spread to surrounding areas, such as the bones in our hips and back.
Therefore, if it has spread to these areas, they could become painful – either in the form of a constant dull ache, or a reoccurring sharp stabbing sensation, advised Christian.
He said: “Although this could be a sign of prostate cancer, back pain is more often than not due to something far less sinister and is not a cause for concern.
“In fact, back and pelvic pain is one of the most common health complaints in the UK.
“However, if the pain is chronic and gets increasingly worse over time, it is important to get medical advice, particularly if the pain wakes you at night.
“The good news is that if prostate cancer is detected early, it can be one of the easiest cancers to treat.
“If you experience any of the symptoms above, visit your GP straight away so that they can investigate the issue and rule out serious conditions such as prostate cancer.”
A slightly rarer, but notable sign of prostate cancer is painful ejaculation.
Christian explained: “The pain following ejaculation can vary from man to man; it could last for a few minutes, or up to twenty-four hours after ejaculation, and vary from mild to intense.
“Prostatitis or inflammation of the prostate, usually caused by an infection, is also a common cause of painful ejaculation.
“However, it could also be caused by pressure from a tumour so it’s important to see you GP or urologist to investigate the cause.”
Unexplained weight loss
If prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body, it could cause unexplained weight loss.
Christian recommended: “Unexplained weight loss is defined as a sudden, noticeable change in an individual’s weight.
“While this can be a sign of stress and other illnesses, it can also indicate a serious underlying condition such as cancer.
“If unexplained weight loss is combined with other symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, nausea, and urinary symptoms, seek medical advice straight away.”
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