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Prostate cancer screening: how do I check myself for prostate cancer?

 

Prostate cancer screening remains a controversial topic in much of the modern world today. While diagnosis and early detection is crucial, the usual routes to diagnosis – for example, PSA testing, biopsies and MRIs – are often taboo within the field of medicine.  

Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and the second-most-common cause of death after lung cancer? Prostate cancer is different from many other cancers; it usually grows very slowly and triggers few symptoms. This makes it difficult to detect. Moreover, early detection through palpation and PSA testing are still controversial.[1]

Although prostate cancer does not usually lead to typical symptoms, people affected may experience prostate problems, such as problems when urinating, bone pain and erectile dysfunction. What can help, apart from regular early detection examinations, is to pay attention to possible prostate cancer symptoms – that is, signs that something is wrong with your prostate. We will discuss early signs of prostate cancer and advanced prostate cancer in our article.

What are typical prostate cancer symptoms?

Prostate cancer is notorious for growing very slowly and hardly being noticeable. This means that, in most cases, those affected experience no prostate cancer symptoms at all for a very long time. Even advanced prostate cancer can still be completely symptom-free.

Did you know that you have a higher risk of prostate cancer if you have a family history of prostate cancer, are of black ethnic origin or are overweight or obese?

what are the signs of prostate cancer

What are the early signs of prostate cancer?

People affected by prostate cancer may experience some early signs indicating prostate problems. These symptoms may be related to prostate cancer – but this is not necessarily the case. They include:[2–4]

  • Problems urinating – for example, weak urine flow or difficulty starting to urinate
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Erectile dysfunction, impotence or even pain during ejaculation

    What are typical symptoms of advanced prostate cancer?

    There are also symptoms that can indicate that the cancer is already spreading to other parts of the body. You should definitely have the following symptoms examined by a doctor:[5]

    • Persistent pain in the bones – for example, in the lower back, hips and thighs
    • Swelling in the legs or crotch
    • Numbness in the hips, legs or feet

      Prostate cancer is very common in men over 70. Because the tumour in the prostate usually grows so slowly, around nine out of ten men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer die from another cause.[1, 6]

      What if I'm experiencing prostate cancer symptoms?

      If you suffer from symptoms like those mentioned above, have yourself examined by your family doctor or directly by a urologist. You can also take a PSA test. This blood test measures the prostate-specific antigen (PSA), a protein that is produced in the prostate. Elevated levels are considered an indication of prostate cancer, benign prostate enlargement or prostatitis. If you have elevated PSA levels, urologists can help you find the exact cause.

      You can read more about PSA values – including what is considered a normal or high value – in our dedicated Health Portal article on what PSA means.

      It is important not to panic! The symptoms pointing toward prostate cancer can also indicate other problems with the prostate, which do not necessarily have to be related to cancer. In addition, prostate cancer is often easily treatable – as long as the tumour is still limited to the prostate, it can usually be treated well with surgery. And even in cases of advanced prostate cancer, you can cure it with hormone therapy, radiation and chemotherapy.

        Prostate cancer screening – at a glance

        What are typical prostate cancer symptoms?

        People affected by prostate cancer may experience some early signs indicating prostate problems. These symptoms may be related to prostate cancer – but this is not necessarily the case. They include problems urinating, frequent urination, blood in the urine or semen and erectile dysfunction, impotence or even pain during ejaculation.

        What are the signs of advanced prostate cancer?

        There are also symptoms that can indicate that the cancer is already spreading to other parts of the body. You should definitely see your doctor if you experience persistent pain in your lower back, hips and thighs, swelling in the legs or crotch or numbness in the hips, legs or feet.

        Sources

        [1]         Wie häufig ist Prostatakrebs? | DKG’, available at https://www.krebsgesellschaft.de/onko-internetportal/basis-informationen-krebs/krebsarten/prostatakrebs/definition-und-haeufigkeit.html, accessed on 28 September 2021.

        [2]         K. Krebsforschungszentrum Deutsches, Prostatakrebs: Symptome, Früherkennung, Behandlung, Nachsorge’, available at https://www.krebsinformationsdienst.de/tumorarten/prostatakrebs/index.php, accessed on 27 September 2021.

        [3]         Symptome bei Prostatakrebs | DKG’, available at https://www.krebsgesellschaft.de/onko-internetportal/basis-informationen-krebs/krebsarten/prostatakrebs/symptome.html, accessed on 28 September 2021.

        [4]         Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, What Are the Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?’, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 August 2020, available at https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/symptoms.htm, accessed on 28 September 2021.

        [5]         Prostate Cancer Symptoms and Early Signs’, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, 10 August 2018, available at https://www.cancercenter.com/cancer-types/prostate-cancer/symptoms, accessed on 28 September 2021.

        [6]         Robert-Koch-Institut, Krebs in Deutschland | 2015/2016’, p. 163. 

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