Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, often not causing signs or symptoms until it is more advanced. If you have prostate cancer, you may experience an array of symptoms, many of which affect the flow of urine:
- Inability to pass urine
- Difficulty starting or stopping the urine flow
- Needing to urinate often, especially at night
- Weak urine flow
- Urine flow that starts and stops
- Pain or burning during urination
- Difficulty having an erection
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- Erectile dysfunction
Keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate conditions other than prostate cancer. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor as soon as possible so that the cause can be diagnosed and treated promptly.
Diagnostic Tests for Prostate Cancer
If a digital rectal exam or prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test indicates the possibility of prostate cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests.
• Transrectal ultrasound: The doctor inserts an ultrasound probe into your rectum to check the prostate for abnormalities. The probe passes sound waves off the prostate, and a computer uses the echoes to create a picture called a sonogram.
• Transrectal biopsy: This is the only certain way to diagnose prostate cancer. The doctor inserts a needle through the ultrasound probe into the prostate and removes tissue samples from several different areas of the gland. A pathologist then checks the samples for the presence of cancer cells.
Doctors at Houston Methodist have a new way to perform prostate cancer biopsies that makes it possible for many men to avoid unnecessary surgery. This new technology combines a traditional magnetic resonance image (MRI) with a transrectal ultrasound. The result is a 3-D image that gives the surgeon more precise information on where the tumors are within the prostate and pinpoints the area(s) from which the biopsy specimen should be taken. The greater accuracy of this procedure means that one-quarter to one-third of patients may avoid surgery, opting instead for active surveillance.