Prostate cancer symptoms: Five signs when you pee that could signal the deadly disease
Prostate cancer symptoms usually appear when the cancer has grown as it begins to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis, known as the urethra. The cancer usually develops slowly, so may not show signs for many years. But it’s important to recognise symptoms when they do start to show because there’s currently no cure for cancer.
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Because prostate cancer presses on the urethra, many of the symptoms of prostate cancer affects how a person pees.
According to Macmillan Cancer Support, symptoms for men to look out for include:
- Difficulty peeing – for example, a weak flow or having to strain to start peeing
- Needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night
- Feeling like you have not completely emptied your bladder after peeing
- An urgent need to pee
- Blood in the pee or semen
The charity advises: “If you have any of these symptoms, it is important o have them checked by your doctor.”
But it’s also important to recognise that these symptoms can be caused by another condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), or benign prostate enlargement (BPE).
The NHS explains: “BPE is the medical term to describe an enlarged prostate, a condition that can affect how you pass urine.
“BPE is common in men aged over 50. It’s not a cancer and it’s not usually a serious threat to health.
“Many men worry that having an enlarged prostate means they have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. This is not the case.
“The risk of prostate cancer is no greater for men with an enlarged prostate than it is for men without an enlarged prostate.”
Is there a test for prostate cancer?
There’s currently no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK, but if you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, or you’ve asked your GP for one, you may have a PSA test.
PSA, which stands for prostate specific antigen, is a protein produced by both normal and cancerous prostate cells.
Cancer Research UK explains: “It’s normal for all men to have some PSA in their blood.
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“A high level of PSA can be a sign of cancer. But your PSA level can also be raised in prostate conditions that are not cancer (are benign) or if you have an infection.
“A diagnosis of cancer is not usually made on a PSA level alone.”
Your doctor should explain to you the risks and benefits of having the PSA test.
The cancer charity adds: “The PSA level isn’t always a reliable sign of whether a man may have prostate cancer. Some men have prostate cancer but have a PSA level that is normal for their age. Other men have a higher PSA level but don’t have prostate cancer.
“It’s also only worth having a PSA test if you’re well enough to have treatment if you do have prostate cancer.
“They should give you enough time to talk about it with your partner or family.”
What causes prostate cancer?
The exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, but a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition, according to the NHS.
- Age – the risk rises as you get older, and most cases are diagnosed in men over 50 years of age
- Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent than in Asian men
- Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer before age 60 seems to increase your risk of developing it; research also shows that having a close female relative who developed breast cancer may also increase your risk of developing prostate cancer
- Obesity – recent research suggests there may be a link between obesity and prostate cancer, and a balanced diet and regular exercise may lower your risk of developing prostate cancer
- Diet – research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer, and there is some evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer
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