Prostate Cancer - Symptoms

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The symptoms of prostate cancer can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?

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What are prostate cancer symptoms and signs?

In the early stages, prostate cancer often causes no symptoms for many years. As a matter of fact, these cancers frequently are first detected by an abnormality on a blood test (the PSA, discussed below) or as a hard nodule (lump) in the prostate gland. Occasionally, the doctor may first feel a hard nodule during a routine digital (done with the finger) rectal examination. The prostate gland is located immediately in front of the rectum.

Rarely, in more advanced cases, the cancer may enlarge and press on the urethra. As a result, the flow of urine diminishes and urination becomes more difficult. Patients may also experience burning with urination or blood in the urine. As the tumor continues to grow, it can completely block the flow of urine, resulting in a painfully obstructed and enlarged urinary bladder. These symptoms by themselves, however, do not confirm the presence of prostate cancer. Most of these symptoms can occur in men with non-cancerous (benign) enlargement of the prostate (the most common form of prostate enlargement). However, the occurrence of these symptoms should prompt an evaluation by the doctor to rule out cancer and provide appropriate treatment.

Furthermore, in the later stages, prostate cancer can spread locally into the surrounding tissue or the nearby lymph nodes, called the pelvic nodes. The cancer then can spread even farther (metastasize) to other areas of the body. Symptoms of metastatic disease include fatigue, bone pain, malaise, and weight loss. The doctor during a rectal examination can sometimes detect local spread into the surrounding tissues. That is, the physician can feel a hard, fixed (not moveable) tumor extending from and beyond the gland. Prostate cancer usually metastasizes first to the lower spine or the pelvic bones (the bones connecting the lower spine to the hips), thereby causing back or pelvic pain. The cancer can then spread to the liver and lungs. Metastases (areas to which the cancer has spread) to the liver can cause pain in the abdomen and jaundice (yellow color of the skin) in rare instances. Metastases to the lungs can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and coughing.

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Comment from: Clemphil, 75 or over Male (Caregiver) Published: August 17

My 85 year old father has been battling prostate cancer for a couple years now. He has gone through radiation and chemo treatments. We have been told the cancer has spread and his PSA is 1600. When he was doing the treatments they also had him on a number of meds from antidepressants to pain pills and many others. He was totally out of his mind and very abusive, wouldn't eat and they sent him home and we have been on Hospice for the last couple of months. Up until all the treatment and drugs, my father was very sharp and just last summer he was mowing his own 6.5 acres of grass. He is now bed ridden cannot support his own weight of 140 lbs. and he is 6' 3". Once we brought him home and stopped all the drugs he got his mind back and he started eating and getting better over all. Three times now he has been back to the hospital and into the same routine of being loaded up with drugs, losing his mind and then coming home. Just last week he started bleeding very bad through his catheter. The clots were so bad they plugged up his catheter and we ended up taking him back to the hospital. My wife has had a lot of bladder infections and this is what it looked like to us. The hospital put him on antibiotics and within hours the bleeding stopped which is how a bladder infection acts. They have kept him in the hospital and put him on pain killers and antidepressants again and they have given him blood transfusions of 4 pints. He has been in no pain at all, but they continue with the pain medications and he goes absolutely crazy. They have done no x rays, but the doctors say the bleeding is the cancer from the prostate.

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Comment from: Brad, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: February 01

I had no physical symptoms at all. But my PSA began to rise a couple of years ago, from about 3.0 all the way up to 11.3. However, it was not in a directly upward rise, rather up then down, up again then down. First urologist thought "not cancer" but the second insisted on a biopsy. Biopsy showed one side had 95% cancer, the other side 30%, with a Gleason 10. Scans showed no metastases, but local involvement is likely. I'm just starting hormone treatment (lupron and casodex) and will start radiation (IMRT) in a couple of weeks.

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