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Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among men in the world. According to the World Cancer Research Fund International, more than 1.1 million cases of prostate cancer were recored in 2012, accounting for 15 percent of new cancer diagnoses in men that year.
Prostate cancer is often found before any symptoms arise. Prostate cancer screening no doubt contributes to that early detection, but many men are reluctant to be screened, feeling that the digital rectal exam, or DRE, is simply too uncomfortable to undergo. And the Prostate Cancer Foundation notes that there is no unanimous opinion in the medical community regarding the benefits of prostate cancer screening. Men should speak with their physicians to determine if screening is for them, ultimately choosing the option they are most comfortable with and the one they feel best promotes their long-term health.
Men who choose not to get screened for prostate cancer or those who are on the fence regarding screening may benefit from learning as much as possible about the disease. Doing so can help them make more informed screening decisions, and those who choose to avoid screening can learn the potential signs and symptoms so they can bring any problems they might be experiencing to their physicians' attention as soon as those abnormalities begin to surface.
The PCF notes that not everyone will experience symptoms of prostate cancer, but some men will. Sometimes the presence of certain problems associated with prostate cancer may be indicative of other conditions, including benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH. BPH is not cancer, but it is an enlargement of the prostate, and a man's risk for developing BPH grows every year. For example, BPH is present in 20 percent of men in their fifties, and that prevalence rises to 70 percent among men age 70 or older. Symptoms of prostatitis, a painful condition in which the prostate is inflamed, tender and swollen, may also resemble the symptoms of prostate cancer. But the PCF notes that prostatitis is a benign ailment that is not cancer and does not contribute to cancer.
While not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer, some men may experience changes in their urinary or sexual function. Men who notice the presence of any of the following symptoms should consult their physicians immediately.
• A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
• Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
• Weak or interrupted flow of urine
• Painful or burning urination
• Difficulty having an erection
• Painful ejaculation
• Blood in urine or semen
More information about prostate cancer is available at www.pcf.org.