“I am living proof that if you catch prostate cancer early, it can be reduced to a temporary inconvenience, and you can go back to a normal life.” – Norman Schwarzkopf, United States Army General
Known for his astonishing leadership as a United States military general during the first Persian Gulf War, Norman Schwarzkopf was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March of 1994 prior to becoming a major advocate for prostate cancer awareness. While he survived his battle, his cancer almost wasn’t detected. Interestingly, he had decided to make a pit stop at the MacDill Air Force Base Hospital in Tampa, Florida due to the tendinitis in his knee, and while there, he decided to kill two birds with one stone and receive a routine rectal exam. His doctor felt “something not quite right”, however assured Norman that he didn’t believe it to be cancer. Subsequently, Norman was scheduled for a PSA test which only registered a count of 1.8; a fairly low score that typically doesn’t indicate prostate issues nor cancer. However, for extra measure, the urologist conducted an ultrasound in which they discovered a “small stone”. After a biopsy was taken of the prostate gland, Norman then received his official diagnosis of prostate cancer at the age of 60. Due to his voluntary decision to receive a rectal exam, he was able to catch the cancer early enough and take the necessary measures to treat it properly, thus increasing his life expectancy to the age of 78 when he passed away due to pneumonia.
Prostate Cancer Early Diagnosis
The earlier the disease is caught, the higher the chances that one will survive prostate cancer. But, how is it possible to know whether or not someone has the condition during its early or progressing stages? In General Norman’s case, it didn’t appear that he experienced any extreme or obvious symptoms that might indicate an issue within his prostate. However, the truth is, symptoms of various cancers can vary depending on where the tumor is located, and sometimes, it’s possible to not experience any symptoms until more advanced stages. With prostate cancer in particular, there are a few warning signs that men should watch out for.
Some prostate cancer patients may experience pain or blood while urinating during the early stages of the disease. Furthermore, they may discover pain or blood during ejaculation. This is likely due to the small tumor pressing or constricting the urethra and weakening the urine and semen flow. However, this symptom is not unique to prostate cancer, as it is also a major symptom of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis (inflamed prostate). Men who are experiencing urinary issues are encouraged to schedule an appointment with their practitioner for a more in-depth analysis to determine if it is due to prostate cancer or other medical issues.
An overactive bladder (OAB) is defined as the frequent, sudden and uncontrollable urge to urinate. Men with prostate cancer may find themselves urinating multiple times a day and during the nighttime hours (also known as nocturia). Additionally, men will also feel the need to urinate urgently to the point where they may leak or soil their pants due to failing to make it to the restroom in time. Please keep in mind that OAB can be due to other conditions such as neurological disorders, hormone changes, pelvic muscle issues, autoimmune disease (such as multiple sclerosis), side effects to medications or other prostate related conditions such as BPH or prostatitis. It’s essential that those who experience this symptom should seek medical attention immediately in order to resolve the root cause.
No Bowel Control
When prostate cancer spreads, the first organ that is affected is usually the rectum. Once it has spread to the rectum, this can cause patients to lose control over their bowels. This means that patients might experience frequent diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, or blood within the stool. Furthermore, they may have more flatulence than usual. Those who have already been diagnosed with prostate cancer and sought conventional treatment may still experience this symptom due to strong chemotherapy and radiation that compromises the gut. Additionally, bowel issues are not unique to prostate cancer, as this can be a sign of other serious digestive conditions.
Not only is this a symptom of prostate cancer, but it’s a sign that it’s spreading to lymph nodes and other areas of the body. The groin contains several lymph nodes, therefore it’s very easy and convenient for cancer cells to spread beyond the prostate. Lymph nodes are responsible for filtering the substances that travel through the lymphatic fluids to help the body combat bacteria and serious diseases. Cancer prevents the lymph nodes from draining fluids and functioning adequately. As a result, this causes lymph nodes to swell which leads to soreness in the groin.
Other Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
Other symptoms of prostate cancer include weight loss, jaundice, fatigue, and lower back pain. While all of these symptoms are not unique to prostate cancer, those that experience more than one symptom or suddenly encounter one of them should receive a Digital Rectal Exam (DRE), a PSA test, and all other screenings or testing that is required from one’s practitioner.
At LifeWorks Wellness Center, we perform both testing procedures and will assist patients with further prostate cancer treatments once they receive an official diagnosis. Prior to obtaining a cancer treatment program, patients must schedule a consultation with a LifeWorks cancer specialist to discuss diagnosis information, medical history and medication information.
If you or a loved one has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer or are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, please call to schedule an appointment at 727-466-6789.