Williams Cancer Institute

Early Signs Of Prostate Cancer

prostate cancer signs

Early Signs Of Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer Symptoms May Be Nonexistent. You might be surprised to find out that early signs of prostate cancer may not occur at all. You might feel as healthy as you did ten years ago and be having one of the best times in your life and then the diagnosis shows up. In fact, only when cancer has progressed do the urinary symptoms begin to show up.

Because the prostate cancer symptoms could be so unobtrusive on your life, how would you know if you have cancer of the prostate? The prostate cancer signs include:

  • It’s difficult to start urinating, even though you know you have to go
  • When you urinate, it comes out in an interrupted fashion, not like a fire hose type of flow
  • While urinating, it’s painful or you feel a burning sensation. This is often referred to as prostate pain.
  • There’s blood in your urine or semen.
  • Ejaculation is painful.
  • You have pain in your pelvis, back or hips and it’s always there.
  • When finished urinating, it feels as if there’s still more urine that needs to come out.

Symptoms of Cancer in Men

These primarily urinary tract symptoms of prostate cancer symptoms make up the category of urinary changes that belong to a bigger picture of early symptoms of cancer in men. The rest of the categories that indicate cancer is a distinct possibility include:

  • Changes in bowel function
  • Bleeding of the rectum
  • Coughing that won’t go away
  • Lumps found in the testicles or breast
  • Fatigue that won’t go away
  • Weight loss that occurs for no reason

How A Diagnosis of Prostate Cancer is Made

About 13 million new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed worldwide annually. Most of them a good 60% occur in men over the age of 65. The way to find out whether or not you have prostate cancer is not to go by the symptoms, but rather by the test results.

There are three primary tests that can be utilized in this decision making process:

  1. A PSA (prostate specific antigen) test this is a blood test that measures a specific protein produced by tissues of the prostate and by cancerous tissues.
  2. A digital exam of the prostate In this case, the word digital means done with the aide of the fingers. It doesn’t mean an electronic or computerized type of test. The doctor is actually feeling the prostate gland itself. If there are areas of the gland that feel hardened or bumps are on it, this could mean that there is a cancerous growth. The exam is done via a gloved rectal exam.
  3. A biopsy This is a test where a small amount of tissue of the prostate gland is excised and then examined underneath the microscope.

What the highly-trained pathologist is looking for is the appearance of the prostate cells and their alignment. In the worst possible case of aggressive prostate cancer, the cells of the prostate may look mostly undetectable because of all the mutations in the cells. They may also be misaligned, with cancer cells infiltrating into the surrounding tissues.

Once abnormal cells are found in the biopsy, the pathologist rates his findings on a scale of 2 to 10 called the Gleason score. The higher the number, the more invasive and serious the cancer is. A diagnosis of prostate cancer is made from this biopsy and Gleason score. The cancer cells may also be tested for genetic abnormalities. Imaging studies such as transrectal ultrasound and transrectal magnetic resonance imaging may also be used to make a diagnosis.

Prostate Cancer Causes

Researchers have found that genetics contributes to prostate cancer. Specifically, there are three factors that can indicate to the doctor that genetics are playing a role. In some cases, any or all of these three factors could be listed as prostate cancer causes:

  1. When the individual has relatives with prostate cancer (including disease showing up in three successive generations on the mother or father’s side)
  2. When prostate cancer happens in someone who’s 55 years old or younger
  3. When prostate cancer history in the family also shows up with other cancers (pancreatic, breast, ovarian)

The genes associated with the highest to moderately highest lifetime risk of prostate cancer are the BRCA1, BRCA2, the mismatch repair genes, and the HOXB13 genes.

In addition, more than 100 single nucleotide polymorphisms, called SNPs, are related to prostate cancer. A SNP is a type of mutation in DNA sequences that doesn’t always have a negative effect. However, the accumulation of many of the same types of SNPs together along with the right environment to turn on a disease can be enough for a disease to appear. This right environment is usually a psychologically stressful environment; one that includes multiple chemical, radiological, or high electromagnetic field stressors; or even simply vitamin and mineral deficiencies.

The Risk Of Prostate Cancer Increases From Certain Factors

Risk factors are characteristics, attributes, or exposures that increase the likelihood of developing either an injury or a disease. Numerous medical studies have been done worldwide, attempting to find these risk factors.

To date, this is what has been found:

  • A high fat diet predisposes men to develop prostate cancer.
  • A high fruit and vegetable diet is associated with lower risks of developing prostate cancer. A diet low in fruits and vegetables is associated with higher risks.
  • Low levels of certain micronutrients in the diet are protective against prostate cancer, such as lycopene, green tea epigallocatechin gallate, and soy phytoestrogens. These medicinal components act as antioxidants and inhibit cancer cell proliferation. Soy phytoestrogens also can modulate the epigenetic modifications found in prostate cancer, reports scientists from France and Turkey.
  • The consumption of well done meats is associated with a high risk for advanced prostate cancer.
  • Men with a known family history of prostate cancer had a higher risk for developing prostate cancer if they were obese.
  • Men older than the age of 65 have a higher rate of prostate cancer than younger men.
  • African American men are more often diagnosed with prostate cancer than men of other races.
  • Men who have other health issues of the prostate such as prostatitis, and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

Knowing the risk factors is sometimes helpful to discover what might have contributed to the development of cancer, and it does give you a clue as to what you might be able to do to slow down the progression of the cancer on your own.

Treating Prostate Cancer at Williams Cancer Institute

Williams Cancer Institute regularly treats prostate cancer patients with two of the most advanced techniques: Cryoablation and immunotherapy.

Cryoablation is a minimally invasive treatment that uses very low temperatures to kill the cancer in the prostate gland. Specifically, needles are inserted into the tumor and cold temperatures then destroy the tumor. Cryoablation is considered highly effective by medical researchers. Doctors reported in May 2014 in the journal called BJU International (the official British Association of Urological Surgeons medical journal) that the disease-free survival rates were 65.3% at 36 months and 51.9% at 60 months. In an October 2017 case analysis of patients who developed prostate cancer after resection surgery on their abdomen and perineal area, cryoablation treatments, all four patients showed PSA levels below 0.1 ng/ml at the one-year mark.

Three of the four patients PSA levels stayed there below 0.1 ng/ml at the 33-month mark as well, and without any urinary incontinence or evidence of reoccurrence. The cryoablation was done to the whole gland. The doctors concluded, MRI-guided cryoablation appears to be a promising treatment option in patients who are poor surgical candidates due to prior pelvic surgery and/or radiation.

Fighting Cancer Cells With Their Own Weapons

At Williams Cancer Institute, immunotherapy is combined with cryoablation in patients with prostate cancer. Immunotherapy is the creation of a vaccine that is capable of stimulating an anti-cancer immune system response. This response is often what the body needs to kickstart its own immune system, something that is sorely needed in cancer patients.

Tumors have been known to send out chemical signals that block a normal immune system response in the patient. When this happens, the cancer is gaining ground and winning. However, with immunotherapy, the result is often a systemic response in the body where all cancer cells are wiped out.

The technology of immunotherapy allows the doctor to identify all the receptors the cancer cells are using to turn off the immune system and the ability to create substances that will block those receptors. Once the receptors are blocked, the cancer can no longer suppress the patient’s immune system. The cancer itself ends up being suppressed, and the cancer’s weapons have been turned on itself.

In a small case review study done by Jason Williams, M.D., Patrick E. Sewell, M.D. and Mark A. Rosenberg, M.D., the doctors found that by combining cryoablation with immunotherapy, the treatments complemented each other, leaving the patients free from cancer. Their results prove that prostate cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence, even for older men. If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, consider obtaining a second opinion from the doctors at Williams Cancer Institute. It may be exactly what you are looking for.


Genetics of Prostate Cancer (PDQ®)-Health Professional Version. Executive Summary. NIH. National Cancer Institute. Accessed online Dec. 4, 2017. https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/hp/prostate-genetics-pdq

How is Prostate Cancer Diagnosed? Prostate Cancer. Centers for Disease Control. Accessed online Dec. 4, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/prostate/basic_info/diagnosis.htm

Adjakly, M., Nigollo, M., Dagdemir, A., et al. Prostate cancer: The main risk and protective factors Epigenetic modifications. Ann Endocrinol (Paris) 2015 Feb; 76(1):25-41. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25592466

Chen, H., Ewing, C.M., Zheng, S., et al. Genetic factors influencing prostate cancer risk in Norwegian men. Prostate 2017 Nov 27. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29181843

Gathirua-Mwangi, W.G. and Zhang, J. Dietary factors and risk for advanced prostate cancer. Eur J Cancer Prev 2014 Mar; 23(2):96-109. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23872953

Liang, Y., Ketchum, N.S., Goodman, P.J., Klein, E.A., Thompson, I.M., Jr. Is there a role for body mass index in the assessment of prostate cancer risk on biopsy? J Urol 2014 Oct; 192(4):1094-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24747090

Govorov, A.V., Vasil ev, A.O., Ivanov, Vlu, et al. Treatment of prostate cancer using cryoablation. Urologia 2014 Nov-Dec (6):69-72, 74. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25799731

Ward, J.F., DiBlasio, C.J., Williams, C., Given, R., and Jones, J.S. Cryoablation for locally advanced clinical stage T3 prostate cancer: a report from the Cryo-On-Line database (COLD) Registry. BJU Int 2014 May, 113(5):714-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24112776

Kinsman, K.A., White, M.L., Mynderse, L.A., et al. Whole-gland prostate cancer cryoablation with magnetic resonance imaging guidance: one-year follow-up. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol 2017 Oct 17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29043385

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