Understanding more about Prostate cancer: From symptoms to diagnosis

Understanding more about Prostate cancer: From symptoms to diagnosis

Did you know that in Australia, prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among men and approximately 1 in 10 men will develop prostate cancer before they turn 75 years old?1

To learn more about how prostate cancer develops and the risk factors for prostate cancer, click here.

What are the warning signs of prostate cancer?

There usually aren’t any early signs that you have prostate cancer.1 You may not notice symptoms even if you have had prostate cancer for a while.1,2

Some signs of more advanced prostate cancer are:2,3

  • Incontinence
  • Lower back or pelvic pain, upper thighs or hips
  • Weak or numb legs and feet
  • Unexplained weight loss

Even if you have some of these symptoms it doesn’t mean you have prostate cancer. Symptoms may occur due to other non-cancerous conditions like benign prostatic hyperplasia.1,2 If you have noticed any of the symptoms above, you should see your doctor, especially if you are worried or your symptoms are ongoing. 

How is prostate cancer diagnosed?

There is no single specific test to diagnose prostate cancer. Usually, your GP will order a few tests to rule out prostate cancer. If you need further testing, your GP will refer you to a urologist who will be able to confirm a diagnosis and talk to you about a personalised treatment plan.1

Tests you may have include:1

  • Prostate specific antigen (known as PSA) blood test (this is a common screening test - the recommendation is to have a PSA blood test every two years from age 50 to 69 years)
  • Digital rectal exam (DRE)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI)
  • Biopsy
  • Bone scan
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
  • Positron emission tomography (PET-CT) scan.

How will I know if I have ‘aggressive’ prostate cancer?

When your doctors refer to prostate cancer as being ‘aggressive’ they are talking about cancer cells growing more quickly than low-grade cancers.1,2 High risk or aggressive prostate cancer is made up of tissue that looks abnormal.1 Currently, the only sure way doctors can tell if prostate cancer is aggressive is by doing a biopsy of the prostate and looking at the tissue under the mircroscope.1,4

How does the staging and grading for prostate cancer work?

You may hear doctors talking about a staging and grading system to classify prostate cancer. Ultimately, the stage and grade of prostate cancer will help to determine the recommended type of treatment.1

TNM staging system Grading system 

T = tumour – refers to the size of the tumour

N = node – refers to whether the tumour has spread to lymph nodes in the pelvis

M = metastasis – refers to whether or not the cancer has spread outside the pelvis 

Low risk – cancer is slow growing and not aggressive

Intermediate risk – cancer is likely to grow faster and be mildly to moderately aggressive

High risk – cancer is likely to grow quickly and be more aggressive 

Remember, if you have any symptoms that are worrisome or you are someone living with prostate cancer, your doctor can help you navigate any concerns specific to you. 

Find out more about prostate cancer here

This blog is provided for information purposes only. It is not a substitute for your own health care professional's advice. It should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any medical procedure or treatment carries risks. Individual treatment outcomes and experiences will vary.