Five signs to identify what is wrong with your prostate

Jan 07, 2023
Do you know the five signs to identify if there's a problem with your prostate? Source: Getty

Let’s talk prostate.

The prostate gland is a male reproductive organ that produces fluids that feed and protect sperm cells. I’d say the three most common forms of prostate disease are inflammation (prostatitis), non-cancerous enlargement (BPH), and prostate cancer. Prostate cancer develops when abnormal cells in the prostate gland grow in an uncontrolled way, forming a malignant tumour. Because a man’s urethra passes through his prostate, swelling or enlargement of this gland can affect his ability to pass urine, which is one of the most common prostate concerns. Alarmingly and perhaps shocking to most, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and the second highest cancer related to deaths in Australian males after lung cancer, with around 3,507 recorded deaths this year alone.

Studies suggest one in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85. Men over the age of 60 are at higher risk with 70.1 per cent of cases diagnosed being in men over 65 years of age and the average age of diagnosis being 69.2 years of age. Knowledge is power and it’s time Australia takes action to educate, start the conversation and empower Australian men to identify and address prostate cancer.

Here are the five signs and symptoms to identify what is wrong with your prostate:

We call these signs and symptoms Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) and these include but are not limited to:

  1. Difficulty starting urination
  2. Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  3. Urinating often, especially at night
  4. Sudden Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
  5. The ‘X’ Factor

The ‘X factor’ is that unexplained gut feeling that something isn’t right; the annual check-up to make sure the motor is running as it should be. What we know is that not everyone will have the common symptoms and further getting regular check-ups with the GP, usually on an annual basis once over 50, is a critical part of ensuring we all age in a healthy way. By getting checked out for this x-factor (usually, the GP would do a PSA blood test) we can sleep far more comfortably knowing all is well. And rest assured, if something isn’t great, it’s far better managed early on with survival rates for men diagnosed with prostate cancer now greater than 96 per cent five years post-diagnosis. What’s more revealing is that if diagnosed in the early stages in Australia, the five-year relative survival is 100 per cent (for stage one prostate cancer). The survival rate for stage four cancers is just 36.5 per cent.

While these symptoms of LUTS can be indicative of a simple age-related swelling or inflammation of the prostate, which is normal and part of normal healthy (nonetheless frustrating!) aging, they can be an indication that something more could be happening, that being anything from an infection in the prostate to prostate cancer. These are certainly reasons to get in touch with your local GP to ensure that everything is as it should be. And for those guys who are finding their erectile function and erectile health isn’t what it used to be it can be a great opportunity to discuss this with a doctor too, as we know that erectile health, even as we age, is important both physically and mentally – don’t miss this chance to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.

Other possible early signs of prostate cancer include unusually weak urine flow and unexplained pain around the prostate while sitting. If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate gland, men may experience swelling in the lower body, back, hip, or bone pain, abnormal bowel or urinary habits, or unexplained weight loss.

It is important to note that the signs of prostate cancer are also shared by many other, less-serious conditions. If you are displaying one or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. Similarly, a man who is diagnosed with prostate cancer may not have any of these symptoms.

We know that in the past, many men with prostate issues perceive them to be a death sentence for their erectile function which in bygone years it often was. Fortunately, today there are more options that men can count to address the erectile issues that can result from the management of prostate issues. Of course, medications for prostate cancer, TURPS, surgery, medications for enlarged prostate, and general wear and tear on the body over the years can result in a loss of erectile function, however, the desire remains for many men.

Getting assistance from the right place can certainly make a difference and for many men restore their erectile function which is a great relief. These options can of course involve oral medications but today we are in an era where we are exposed to various treatments and options. Now we have a range of injectable medications that work well, gels for urethral application, medical grade devices like vacuum pumps as well as rings and vibrators which can help strengthen erectile function.

Finally, while there is a lot of self-help information out there, a lot of this is misinformation. The devices exist to help address men’s urological and sexual health issues and guide them through the rehabilitation process. There is no embarrassment, stigma, or awkward conversation. As pharmacists, no concern is off limits and we strive to provide quality rehabilitation solutions for all men. We aim to optimise outcomes to help men live their best lives.  By connecting with a trusted GP or specialist, you can be far more confident that you’ll get the right advice and a treatment regimen that is both safe and effective.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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