By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
In men, the urethra is a narrow tube that carries urine from the bladder through the penis and out of the body. The urethra also passes through the prostate gland, which is responsible for producing a protective fluid that mixes with sperm to produce semen. This semen is also carried out of the body by the urethra.
As a tumor of the prostate increases in size, it presses against the urethra causing blockage and symptoms of prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer and symptoms may not appear for years.
Some of the symptoms a person with this cancer may present with include:
- An increased urgency to urinate but a weak urine flow once urinating
- Difficulty in starting urination
- Increased frequency of urination
- The flow of urine may be inconstant, repeatedly starting and stopping
- A feeling that voidance is incomplete and the bladder is still not empty after urination
- A pain or burning sensation while urinating
- The presence of blood in the urine, called hematuria
- Erectile dysfunction
In cases of more advanced cancer that has spread, pain may be felt in various areas of the body, depending on where the cancer has spread to. Loss of appetite and a general feeling of fatigue and malaise are other symptoms of advanced cancer.
If the cancer has spread to the bone, the affected bone may become painful and weak, making movement difficult and increasing the chance of a bone fracture. Involvement of the spine often results in pressure on the spinal cord which can cause numbness and tingling in the legs. This is referred to as malignant spinal cord compression.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc