13.07.2024

Prostate cancer symptoms: Look out for these tell-tale signs

Paul Burrell today opened up about his ‘life-changing’ diagnosis with prostate cancer. The 64-year-old former butler of Princess Diana said the shock diagnosis has strengthened his relationship with his two sons.

‘I was wrapping Christmas presents, wondering “Will I be here next Christmas?”,’ he told Lorraine.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease, striking thousands of British and American men every year. It is most prevalent in over-50s and black men.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease, striking thousands of British and American men every year. It is most prevalent in over-50s and black men

Charities estimate there are more than 53,000 new cases in the UK and 280,000 in the US each year.

And 12,000 men die each year from the disease – 33 every day – with almost 35,000 deaths each year in the US.

It means prostate cancer is behind only lung and bowel in terms of how many people it kills in Britain.

Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of the disease, striking thousands of British and American men every year. It is most prevalent in over-50s and black men

The prostate, which is about the size of a walnut, is located between the penis and the bladder, and surrounds the urethra.

Its main function is to produce seminal fluid – which nourishes and transports sperm. This fluid mixes with sperm from the testicles to produce semen.

Men with early prostate cancer will often suffer no symptoms — unless the cancer grows next to the urethra.

This means that noticing symptoms can suggest the cancer is advanced, according to Prostate Cancer UK. It usually develops over several years.

The pressure on the urethra can affect how you urinate.

For example, it can make men need to pee more frequently or during the night.

Other symptoms can include needing to rush to the toilet, straining or taking a long time to empty the bladder, or having a weak flow.

It may also be difficult to start peeing or men may feel as though their bladder has not fully emptied.

Noticing blood in semen or urine can also be a sign a tumour has grown large, as it may be pressing on blood vessels, causing them to become blocked, irritated or have ruptured, according to Harvard Health.

However, this symptom is rare and blood in semen or urine often does not mean cancer.

Changes in the way a man urinates is more likely to be caused by prostate enlargement rather than cancer, but Prostate Cancer UK says it is important to see your doctor anyway.

Prostate enlargement is a very common non-cancerous condition that occurs with ageing, where the prostate becomes enlarged and puts pressure on the urethra.

Speaking out: The late Diana, Princess of Wales ' former butler announced the news during an appearance on Monday's edition of Lorraine

Speaking out: The late Diana, Princess of Wales ‘ former butler announced the news during an appearance on Monday’s edition of Lorraine

Prostate Cancer UK also says that if the cancer breaks out of the prostate or spreads to other parts of the body, it can cause different symptoms.

These can include back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain — which can be caused as the cancer spreads to bones.

You may also notice problems getting or keeping an erection, unexplained weight loss or fatigue.

In October, researchers from the University of Michigan suggested that widespread screening can help to detect prostate cancer earlier, giving men a better chance of survival.

Their study screened men using a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and was found to slash cases of advanced diagnosis by 11 per cent.

However, doctors widely agree the test is not accurate enough to use for screening.

The NHS says: ‘PSA tests are unreliable and can suggest prostate cancer when no cancer exists.’

Due to the lack of accurate testing for prostate cancer, doctors struggle to distinguish between aggressive and less serious tumours.

This makes it hard to decide on treatment.

There are different approaches to keeping an eye on the progression of prostate cancer, these are called watchful waiting and active surveillance.

The former is often recommended to older men and involves delaying treatment to see if the cancer progresses.

While active surveillance is where regular MRI scans, PSA tests and sometimes biopsies are carried out to monitor the cancer’s progression and avoid unnecessary treatment of harmless cancers.

Prostate cancers often need testosterone to grow, so some men are given hormone therapy to decrease their hormone levels in order to slow cancer growth.

Mr Burrell, who is on hormone therapy, said: ‘It’s robbing me of my testosterone so my beard isn’t growing as it should, I’m tired, and I’m getting hot flushes.’

Some men get their prostate removed, others get radiotherapy.

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