Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers among men, with over 50,000 new cases being diagnosed each year.
Factors such as age, family history and ethnic groups will increase a man’s likelihood of developing the disease.
When it comes to the early signs to spot, any unusual or drastic changes to your urinating habits is a major indicator – but what about erectile dysfunction?
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Androgens (male hormones) including testosterone are said to speed up the way prostate cells grow and divide.
The faster these cells grow, the more quickly prostate cells mutate.
Men’s health experts at FROM MARS discuss the main signs of prostate cancer to be aware of, and whether erectile dysfunction could be an early sign of the disease.
Prostate cancer's early symptoms
Navin Khosla, superintendent pharmacist at FROM MARS, said: “As prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among men, it is important to know the warning signs of the illness in order to detect the cancer early on.
“The risk of prostate cancer increases with age – after the age of 50, I would advise visiting your doctor for regular prostate examinations.
“This risk is increased further if there is a history of prostate cancer in your ancestry and also if you are of African-Caribbean or African ancestry – if this is the case I would advise the regular checks to start from the age of 45.”
Main symptoms of prostate cancer
According to Khosla, the main early signs potentially warning of prostate cancer include:
- Urinating more often than usual, especially at night
- Having little control over urinating – finding it difficult to start or stop or experiencing a weak flow of urine
- Experiencing pain or a burning sensation when urinating or ejaculating
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Sudden erectile dysfunction.
Difficulties in getting erect usually happen over a period of time and can be due to circulatory or nervous system issues.
Experts warn that if erectile dysfunction appears out of nowhere, it could indicate early prostate cancer symptoms.
If experiencing this problem, you are strongly advised to be extra vigilant of any other unusual and accompanying symptoms, and to speak to your GP immediately.
“Unfortunately, there’s no way of completely eradicating the risk of developing prostate cancer," said Khosla.
Khosla does advise a few lifestyle changes that could help, including maintaining a healthy diet and exercising.
“Also reducing animal-fat intake and consumption of processed meats can help reduce these risks," she added.
Testing for prostate cancer
A prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test helps doctors determine a person's risk to prostate cancer.
These are blood tests are offered to men aged over 50 which measure the levels of PSA.
"Your PSA level can also be raised by other, non-cancerous conditions," says the NHS.
"Raised PSA levels also cannot tell a doctor whether you have life-threatening prostate cancer or not.
"If you have a raised PSA level, you may be offered an MRI scan of the prostate to help doctors decide if you need further tests and treatment."
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