How to catch prostate cancer before it's too late. The warning signs that can save your life.

Like all kinds of cancer, the goal is to diagnosis and treat prostate cancer before it metastasizes, or spreads to other areas of the body.  When detected while the tumor is still confined to its original location, i.e.,the prostate capsule, prostate cancer is highly treatable. 

What are the key signs of prostate cancer to watch out for?  Often, there are no warning signs of prostate cancer in its early stage.  This is why it is important to have annual PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood tests starting at age 40 to detect any abnormalities.

If you have a family history prostate cancer, be sure to ask your primare care physician: How likely is it that I will develop prostate cancer? How often should I be tested?  What things can I do to prevent getting prostate cancer?

The signs of a "problem" prostate include: having to urinate frequently, being unable to empty the bladder completely and getting up several times a night to urinate.  These signs often relate to an enlarged prostate, or BPH, which is readily treatable with medication.

In the advanced stages of prostate cancer, patients may experience blood in the urin or in the sperm and pain in the groin, back or stomach.

If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, be sure to ask your doctor:  What is my Gleason score?  How many of the biopsy cores had cancer cells and what percent?  Can we do imaging tests (preferably an endo-rectal MRI) to be sure that the tumor is contained within the capsule?  What treatment do you recommend and do you anticipate that I will be cured?  What are the side effects of the treatment?

It is always a good thing to get a second opinion.  You should ask your doctor for the names of radiation oncologists, medical oncologists or another urologist.  You should bring a copy of your pathology report and slides with you when you get a second opinion from a specialist.

You must be your own advocate and get the information that you need to beat prostate cancer.  Copy this article or e-mail it to a family member or friend to alert them to the warning signs of prostate cancer.