Prostate cancer or malignancy in the prostate gland has been the second leading killer disease in US at present. Studies reveal that 1 out of 6 Americans develop prostate cancer with African Americans showing a higher incidence of this disease.
Malignancy is observed in the prostate gland, which is a small walnut shaped gland that forms a part of the male reproductive system. In most cases, the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer remain undetected in the initial stages.
Although advanced healthcare facilities have helped reducing the mortality rates from prostate cancer, but it is wise to be educated about the early signs of this disease to avoid dreadful consequences.
What causes Prostate Cancer?
Although there is no definite cause of prostate cancer, but scientists identify aging, race, genetic factors, diet, environmental conditions and exposure to certain chemicals as the probable causes. Among these, aging has a strong relation in developing this disease.
Common Signs of Prostate Cancer
Initial signs of prostate cancer crop up with problems in urination due to the location of the prostate gland near to the urinary bladder and urethra. Increase in the frequency of urination, Nocturia, urgency in evacuating urinary bladder and difficulty in initiating urination are commonly observed signs of prostate cancer.
These symptoms almost resemble the enlarged prostate or BPH (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia) symptoms. Therefore, prostate cancer can be confirmed only through proper screening tests.
Other signs of prostate cancer include blood in urine or semen, painful ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, pain or burning sensation during urination and pain in the bones especially in the pelvic region.
Early Signs of Prostate Cancer
Higher PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) levels
Prostate cancer can be detected at the earliest or the risk factors can be assessed conducting PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) tests. Human prostate gland produces a substance PSA that is present mostly in semen, and a very little amount of it is present in the blood.
Testing PSA level in the blood can determine abnormal functioning of the prostate gland and help in assessing the risk of developing prostate cancer. PSA level in the blood should remain below 4ng/liter, and higher PSA levels increase the risk of prostate cancer.
A person with PSA level higher than 10ng/liter has 50% chances of developing this disease. But this does not imply that persons with PSA levels below 4ng/liter will not develop this disease, but the incidences are rare. Moreover, certain physical activities and medications can also increase PSA level in the blood.
Presence of Bumps and Hard Lumps in the Prostate Gland
Occurrence of bumps and hard lumps in the prostate gland may also indicate prostate cancer. Often, these lumps are detected accidentally during Digital Rectal Exam (DRE).
This test is performed to detect any abnormalities in the lower abdomen and pelvis. Since the prostate gland located in front of the rectum, it is easy for the doctor to detect any lumps or abnormal growths. The doctor may advise PSA and other screening tests to confirm the nature of the lump.
Since signs of prostate cancer often go unnoticed in the early stages, the American Urological Association strongly recommends PSA and DRE tests for men aged above 40. Aged persons with a family history of prostate cancer must go for regular screening of the prostate gland. Proper diagnosis of the warning signs can prevent this disease saving many lives.
Aged persons should not ignore any sign of urinary problem like dribbling, urinary incontinence and urinary tract infection but should go for a thorough medical check up to rule out the possibilities of this killer disease.