Symptoms of prostate cancer include trouble urinating, decreased strength in the urine stream, blood in the urine or semen, general pain in the back and lower body, including the pelvic region, bone pain and erectile dysfunction, according to the Mayo Clinic. WebMD also lists the leaking of urine when laughing or coughing and the inability to urinate while standing up as additional symptoms.
A doctor visit is recommended if any of these symptoms are present, as a number of complications can result from prostate cancer. If left undiagnosed, prostate cancer can spread to other organs in the body, such as the bladder, and even to the bones through the blood and lymphatic system. If prostate cancer spreads, it is no longer curable, even though it can be treated and controlled. Other conditions that can result are incontinence and erectile dysfunction in varying degrees of severity depending on when the cancer treatment is started.
Early detection of prostate cancer, particularly when the cancer affects only the prostate gland and has not spread to other areas, increases a patient's chances of successful treatment, explains Mayo Clinic. Prostate cancer often develops gradually and remains harmless when restricted to the prostate gland, requiring mild or no treatment. However, other types of prostate cancer tend to spread rapidly.
A prostate-specific antigen, or PSA, blood test and a digital rectal exam can possibly detect early prostate cancer, reports the American Cancer Society. Doctors may recommend retaking a PSA test or undergoing a prostate biopsy to further confirm the presence of cancer. In addition to prostate cancer, factors that can lead to a higher PSA level include old age, an enlarged prostate or prostatitis.
The Mayo Clinic lists several risk factors involved with prostate cancer, including being older than 65, obese, African American or having a family history of the disease. A visit to the doctor is recommended for anyone with these risks, as all are contributing factors to developing prostate cancer.