Prostate Cancer – What are the Signs, Tests, and Cure Options

prostate cancer symptoms, causes, and surgeries
Photo by Armin Lotfi via Unsplash

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer (for men) in America. Many people live with prostate cancer since it affects 1 in 8 men.

Fortunately, 3.1 million people in the United States have successfully survived this killer disease (via However, prostate cancer can be a serious condition that can lead to other health problems if left untreated or undiagnosed.

Some of those problems are urinary incontinence, erectile dysfunction, and bone fractures.

Prostate cancer can be a very scary diagnosis to receive as it is so common in the elderly population. However, there have been great leaps forward in medical technology that have allowed doctors to diagnose men much earlier than ever before.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Men who have prostate cancer usually experience some of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty peeing or holding back pee
  • Having to get up frequently during the night to use the bathroom
  • The weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination can also be a symptom of an infection. If you have some pain when urinating but no other symptoms, then you probably do not have prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer Tests

Doctors should be able to diagnose this type of cancer through a physical exam, blood work, and biopsies. However, other tests may need to be done depending on the results of these tests. Some other tests your doctor may run include:

  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
  • Transrectal Ultrasound
  • CT Scan or MRI of the Prostate
  • Bone Scan

These tests are not just for diagnosing prostate cancer, but they can also be used to determine if treatment is needed. If your doctor does suspect that you have this type of cancer, then he or she would likely order one or more of these tests to determine further action.

Diagnosed with Prostate Cancer? Here’s What to Do Next!

Once you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, then your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.

There are 3 main types of prostate treatments:

  1. Surgery
  2. Radiation therapy
  3. Active surveillance

These treatment options vary in their effectiveness, duration of recovery time, and side effects.


Surgery is the most common type of prostate treatment. There are different types of surgery to remove cancer including:

  • Radical prostatectomy (removal of the whole prostate gland)
  • Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) – removal of part of the enlarged prostate tissue through your urethra
  • Laser surgery – removing the tumor using a laser beam
  • High intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) – similar to TURP, but uses sound waves instead of lasers to destroy tumors. 

Talk with your doctor about which type of surgery is right for you and how it will be performed based on your specific diagnosis.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill prostate cancer cells. It may not completely remove the tumor, but it can help keep cancer from coming back in most cases. This type of treatment is most effective when used early on with smaller tumors. The three different types of radiation therapy are:

  • External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) – X-ray beams are aimed at the prostate gland from outside of the body
  • Brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy) – radioactive material is inserted into the prostate via a tube or catheter. This does not require any surgery, but it can be more uncomfortable than other forms of radiation therapy. 
  • Proton beam therapy – uses a beam of particles to kill cancer cells and is usually used on hard-to-treat cancers

The side effects of radiation therapy depend on the type that you receive and how much time has passed since your treatment.

Some common radiation therapy side effects include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Blood in urine or stool
  • Bladder spasms (painful tightening of the bladder)
  • Rectal pain, rectal bleeding, and constipation
Active Surveillance

Active surveillance generally means that the cancer is being closely monitored through regular doctor visits, as well as blood tests for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) about every six months and at least one digital rectal exam (DRE) a year.

Ending Remarks

Talk with your doctor about which treatment option will be best for you. Be sure to ask about the different prostate cancer treatment options available to ensure that you make an informed decision on your course of action. Once you have decided on a treatment option, know what to expect during each stage so that you will be armed with the information you need.

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