Do prostate cancer warning signs always indicate cancer?
No: it is important to remember that prostate cancer symptoms do not automatically mean you have prostate cancer. The same symptoms can indicate other problems with the prostate, including acute or chronic infections, which can be treated with simple antibiotics. A non-cancerous enlarged prostate (called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH) may also cause the same symptoms.
What should I do if I spot prostate cancer warning signs?
As discussed above, the treatment for prostate cancer is most effective when started as early as possible. So, however scared you may feel, you should never hide from the prostate cancer warning signs, hoping that they will go away or that they might mean something else.
As soon as you spot any prostate cancer warning signs, you should consult your GP without delay. He or she will perform a series of tests, including a rectal exam, to establish if the prostate is enlarged. If cancer is diagnosed, treatment can then start as soon as possible.
Modern treatments are very effective, with as many as 70% of newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients now surviving beyond five years, compared to just 30% in the 1970s.
Don’t wait for prostate cancer warning signs
The early stages of prostate cancer may have no symptoms at all, and by the time prostate cancer warning signs appear, the cancer can be well established. If you fall into one or more of the high risk groups mentioned above, it is particularly important that you have regular checkups with your GP, even if you have no symptoms. Your GP can perform a blood test, called a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, which may show the presence of cancer long before physical prostate cancer warning signs appear. This test is not perfect and may give a false positive or may miss some cancers, giving you false reassurance. Nonetheless, it is worth asking your GP for an annual PSA test as it increases your chances of catching prostate cancer early and getting greater benefit from the available treatment.
Keeping a check on prostate cancer warning signs is worth it
Your health is in your hands, and looking out for prostate cancer warning signs is one way that you can take care of that health. Remember, 70% of men now live beyond five years after diagnosis; being aware of the warning signs and seeking treatment as soon as possible can make a big difference.