A man reflects on slight symptoms he was not concerned about leading up to his prostate cancer diagnosis.
I was 57 years old when my doctor delivered the devastating news confirming my prostate cancer diagnosis. It caught me totally off guard as I was healthy, fit and wasn't experiencing any health issues or symptoms of any kind. I had no problems in the bedroom, and I slept throughout the night. It didn't seem possible to have cancer without any pain, lumps or signs. But it was true whether I wanted to believe it or not.
If it weren't for regular PSA testing, I wouldn't have known my PSA was rising. And since my PSA continued to climb over the years without explanation, my doctor ordered more tests, including an MRI, a prostate biopsy, a bone and CT scan. It turned out that cancer was already in the final stage before breaching the prostate, and I had no symptoms. Without testing, cancer was free to grow undetected and most likely would have spread before I developed symptoms. I'm currently four years NED after prostate cancer treatment.
Since my diagnosis, I have met many men with stage 4 prostate cancer who had never heard of PSA testing until after their terminal diagnosis. They all wonder whether if they had regular PSA testing 10 years earlier, they might have been able to stop cancer from spreading. It's never a good time to be diagnosed with cancer, but catching it earlier provides more treatment options and a better chance of survival.
Now that my cancer diagnosis and treatment are behind me, I've had time to reflect. At first diagnosis, I didn't think I had any symptoms. Or at least nothing significant or notable. I now believe the signs were there, but I didn't recognize or take notice of them. Two symptoms in particular include a weak stream and less frequent erections. The changes didn't happen overnight but rather occurred slowly over several years. Therefore, I assumed it was part of the natural aging process.
Since I'm not a doctor, I shouldn't have made any assumptions about my health. I seem to have always found an excuse to justify my symptoms. I even believed that I was bladder shy, and that was the reason for a slow stream. And I blamed the less frequent erections on being married too long and that we were losing our magic.
It's always best to seek the advice of medical professionals rather than making these types of assumptions. If I had the opportunity to go back, I definitely would have seen a doctor much earlier to discuss my weak flow and erections. And please don't be embarrassed or wait for things to get better before seeking help. I know many men who haven't seen a doctor in over 20 years. And some of them admitted that they ignored their pain and symptoms for years before gathering the courage to see a doctor. It's much better to treat issues sooner than later.
As we age, it's critical to become intimately familiar with our bodies and not to ignore anything unusual, no matter how small. Health is not something we should ever take for granted. Even if you are healthy, without any symptoms, it's best to see a doctor for annual checkups. I once read somewhere that the leading cause of death in men is not going to the doctor.
For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.