The Signs of Prostate Cancer

Doctor listening to man's breathing in doctor’s office
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Most men today are diagnosed before they begin to show any signs of prostate cancer.

As a point of clarification, signs of prostate cancer are those things that others, such as your doctor, can see or measure that might point to the disease. Symptoms, on the other hand, are those things only you can feel (such as pain, the need to use the bathroom, etc.) and must report to others.

Possible Signs of Prostate Cancer

  • An Irregular Contour to the Prostate: The prostate can be examined during a digital rectal exam and, if found to be irregular or "bumpy," is considered to be abnormal.
  • An Elevated PSA Level: While there are many causes of an elevated PSA level that are not cancer, it remains one of the possible causes until ruled out. Most men today are first diagnosed with prostate cancer after being found to have an elevated PSA.
  • Enlarged Bladder and Distended with Urine: This can sometimes be felt on a physical exam of the abdomen but can be easily seen on an ultrasound, CT scan, or MRI of the abdomen. As the prostate enlarges due to cancer, BPH, or any other reason, it restricts the flow of urine out of the bladder. Subsequently, it may fill with urine and enlarge.
  • X-Ray, CT Scan, MRI, Bone Scan or Other Imaging Studies: Prostate cancer has a tendency to spread to the bones. While many other conditions are more likely to be the cause of a new bone lesion, prostate cancer is also a possibility.
  • Enlarged Lymph Nodes in the Groin: Your physician may discover these on a physical exam. Prostate cancer, if it spreads, often goes to lymph nodes in the groin and pelvis, thus causing them to enlarge.
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Article Sources

  • Abraham J, Gulley JL, Allegra CJ. Bethesda Handbook of Clinical Oncology. 2005.
  • Govindan R, Arquette MA. Washington Manual of Oncology. 2002.