Prostate cancer is the result of cancerous cells multiplying uncontrollably in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men. It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. “In many cases, prostate cancer doesn’t cause any symptoms,” said Professor Hashim Ahmed, Consultant Urological Surgeon, Bupa Cromwell Hospital.
However, as Professor Ahmed explained to Express.co.uk, problems with urinating can often be one of the first signs that something is wrong, especially if the cancer is pressing on or growing near the urethra.
The urethra is a duct that transmits urine from the bladder to the exterior of the body during urination.
One telltale sign something has gone awry is difficulty to stop when peeing or dribbling urine.
Professor Ahmed explained: “Similarly to finding it difficult to start urinating, men might also find it difficult to stop urinating once they’ve started, or may find they dribble urine after they’ve finished peeing.”
Another warning sign to watch out for is needing to pee more frequently, often during the night, he said.
“You’ll know what’s normal to you but, if you start needing to urinate more often during the day, get a sudden urge to go or needing to get up during the night it can be a sign that your prostate has enlarged or of something else that is wrong such as a urinary tract infection (UTI),” said Professor Ahmed.
A UTI is an infection in any part of your urinary system, such as your kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra.
Other urinating problems that could signal prostate cancer include:
- Straining or difficulty starting urinating – “As well as needing to urinate more often, men tend to find that when they get to the toilet, they have problems starting to urinate. This may be because the enlarged prostate or tumour is blocking the urine flowing through to the urethra.”
- A weak flow of urine – “A weak flow of urine can happen if the cancer is pressing on the urethra, meaning not all the urine in the bladder is able to pass. It may also mean that your bladder doesn’t feel empty and you need to go more frequently.”
- Feeling like you’re not able to fully empty your bladder – “As with other symptoms, this may be caused because the tumour or enlarged prostate is blocking the urine flowing through the urethra.”
- Blood in urine – “Blood in the urine or semen can be a key sign that something is wrong. Even if it is only a small amount of blood, it is really important that this is checked by your GP as soon as possible.”
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How to respond
“It is really important that men speak to their GP as soon as possible, if they notice any changes to their urine – or any other symptoms,” advised Dr Ahmed.
If you’re displaying these symptoms, don’t panic, however.
“These can all be caused by other problems and many are just temporary symptoms,” said Dr Ahmed.
He added: “All the same, it’s still a good idea to speak to your GP about any concerns you may have as soon as possible, so they can investigate further.”
How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatment for prostate cancer will depend on your individual circumstances – for many men with prostate cancer, no treatment will be necessary, says the NHS.
“When treatment is necessary, the aim is to cure or control the disease so it affects everyday life as little as possible and does not shorten life expectancy,” explains the health body.
Radiotherapy is an option for curing prostate cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate or has not spread very far, it adds.
Radiotherapy is a treatment whereby radiation is used to kill cancer cells.
Am I at risk?
It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.
Age, genetics and lifestyle factors may influence your risk of developing prostate cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer is more common in men aged 75 to 79 years.
Your risk of prostate cancer is also higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who has had prostate cancer, says the charity.
What’s more, researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).
“Try to keep a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet,” advises Cancer Research UK.
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