Prostate Cancer Symptoms May Point to Something Less Dire
Prostate cancer is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose. While cancer screening with blood tests has become more viable and effective at detecting early-stage prostate cancer, the only 100 percent guaranteed way to know if you have prostate cancer is through a biopsy or the removal of tissue or cell samples.
Exacerbating the problem in the digital age are misinformed self-diagnoses. If you've ever Googled the name of a disease, you may have given yourself quite a scare, especially if you're suffering some of the symptoms of prostate cancer. However, not all of these symptoms are indicative of cancer. Before you have a meltdown, be leery of the following common prostate cancer symptoms and get to the bottom of your issues by talking to a healthcare professional.
Urinary problems are a common sign of prostate cancer. They may include difficulty urinating, frequent urgency, pain when urinating or blood in the urine. If you're experiencing any of these, it might indicate prostate cancer, but it also might mean something else, including your alcohol or caffeine intake. Also, you will generally notice more frequent urination as part of the natural aging process.
What could urinary problems also indicate?
Difficulty passing urine is also symptomatic of kidney stones or urinary tract infections (UTIs). Blood in the urine is also indicative of kidney stones but may also be kidney disease in rare cases. And if you find that urinating causes pain or burning, you might just have a sexually transmitted infection (STI), especially if you've recently had unprotected sex.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) refers to consistent difficulty in achieving or maintaining an erection. While this issue is a symptom of prostate cancer, it's also present in millions of men without prostate cancer. The older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from ED, but don't let negative feelings about the condition make you automatically decide that it's prostate cancer.
What else might be causing ED?
ED is widespread among men, with a breadth of underlying issues and diseases. It's common among men 65 and older, those with kidney or heart disease or diabetes or even men with psychological issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If ED is an occasional occurrence, you may have just knocked back a few too many drinks before trying to perform, so don't stress out that it's the result of prostate cancer.
Involuntary weight loss
Even if you need to shed a few pounds, involuntary weight loss is a cause for concern. It's one of the many symptoms of prostate cancer. However, it's rarely present by itself in prostate cancer patients and can be attributed to another condition in most cases.
What could involuntary weight loss mean for you?
Involuntary weight loss is a common symptom of more than a dozen diseases and conditions, including:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Endocarditis (inflammation of the heart's inner lining)
- Addison's disease (the adrenal glands don't produce enough hormones)
If your weight loss is unintentional and you feel it is becoming a problem, other factors are often at play. Making an appointment with a doctor is the only way to make sure you can pinpoint the cause.
A positive PSA test
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests are used to diagnose the early stages of prostate cancer. By taking a blood sample, technicians can test your blood for PSA, a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate gland. If you have high PSA levels, you might have prostate cancer, but the test is often criticized for its inaccuracies and false positives.
What else could a positive PSA test mean?
If you have a positive PSA test, which means you have high levels of PSA compared to healthy men without prostate cancer, don't get too worked up. These high levels have also been associated with other issues, such as an enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia), swelling or inflammation of the prostate (prostatitis) or even a recent ejaculation.
Don't stress until you test
If you're suffering from any of these symptoms for a prolonged period or they're starting to affect your mental health, schedule an appointment with your doctor. But don't stress until you get the test. With a multifaceted approach of a PSA test, a digital rectal exam and a biopsy, you can know with certainty whether you have prostate cancer.