Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped gland in the pelvis of men that is responsible for not only the production of seminal fluid but also the propelling of this fluid into the urethra during ejaculation.
Surprisingly, prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, apart from skin cancer. Around 60% of cases are diagnosed in men above the age of 65. Now the problem is that it is tough to diagnose this form of cancer since it shows no signs and symptoms in its early stages. Once the disease reaches a more advanced stage, it is only then that one starts seeing signs and symptoms of the same. But to stay on the safer side, here are a few warning signs of prostate cancer to look out for, which you might start noticing during sex:
Blood in semen:
As per a study conducted at Northwestern University, of people who complained of blood in semen, 13.7% were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Although blood in semen (Hemospermia), can be due to other reasons like UTI or sexually transmitted diseases, it can also be due to prostate cancer. Both benign polyps and malignant tumors of the prostate gland can cause Hemospermia. This happens because prostate cancer affects the surrounding glands or blood vessels in and around the male reproductive system.
Erectile Dysfunction is a man’s inability to get or maintain an erection, strong enough for sexual intercourse. Although there can be many reasons for erectile dysfunction, sudden problems in getting an erection can also be an early sign of prostate cancer. What is surprising is that ED can even result from the treatment of prostate cancer, including radiation and surgery.
Painful ejaculation or/and pain in the lower pelvic area:
Sudden onset of pain either during ejaculation or in the lower pelvic area during sexual intercourse are also a probable symptom of prostate cancer. During sexual intercourse, if you start feeling any of these pains, then it is better to consult your doctor for further diagnosis.
Apart from the above, there are some other early symptoms of this cancer like pain in lower back and thighs, frequent urination, unable to empty bladder, trouble urinating, to name a few. Although all the above symptoms can be for any other disease, it’s still always safe to get yourself checked once to rule out prostate cancer.
So what causes prostate cancer?
It usually begins when some cells in your prostate become abnormal. These cells then start growing and diving more rapidly than healthy cells, ultimately destroying them. They keep growing and accumulating to eventually form a tumorous growth that can even break off and spread to other parts of the body.
Who is at increased risk to the same?
- Age: Generally men above the age of 65, are at an increased risk of prostate cancer
- Ethnicity: African-American men are at a far more increased risk of this disease than others.
- Family History: Men who have a family history of prostate cancer are more susceptible to it. That is, a man is 2 to 3 times more likely to get prostate cancer if his father or brother suffered from the same.
- Smoking: The risk of prostate cancer doubles for heavy smokers. However, within ten years of quitting the same, the risk goes down to equivalent to that of a non-smoker.
- Obesity: Obese men are at an increased risk of dying from prostate cancer. The risk increases if a person eats more animal fats, calories, and refined sugar.
How can the same be prevented?
Simple ways to reduce the risk of prostate cancer is to eat a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle which includes no smoking and very less or no consumption of alcohol. Although some healthcare providers believe that drugs like finasteride can help prevent prostate cancer, others think it can only slow the development of it.
Medically reviewed by Rishabh Verma, RP