Prostate Cancer Symptoms You Cannot Ignore

Affecting 3,694 men from 2010 to 2014, prostate cancer is the third most common cancer among Singapore men. It is also the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths locally. In this interview, we talk to Dr William Tan, neuroscientist, end-stage leukaemia survivor and Medical Director of MindChamps Medical, to understand more about the disease.


Q: Where is the prostate gland located and what is its function?

Though small as the size of a walnut, the prostate gland which surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) and sits just below the bladder and the opening of the vas deferens (tube that ferry sperm up from the testicles to the urethra), produces a thick, white fluid that is mixed with sperm to create semen that is important for the reproductive process.


Q: What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Symptoms that may affect any man include:

  • pain in the pelvis, genitals, lower back and buttocks
  • pain during urination
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • difficulty urinating
  • pain when ejaculating
  • pain in the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum)

The symptoms that affect mainly men over 50, as well as symptoms of prostate cancer in its late stages, are similar. They are:

  • enlargement of the prostate
  • difficulty starting or stopping urinating
  • a weak flow of urine
  • straining when peeing
  • feeling like you’re not able to fully empty your bladder
  • prolonged dribbling after you’ve finished urinating
  • needing to urinate more frequently or more suddenly
  • waking up frequently during the night to urinate


Q: What are the factors that increase the risk of prostate cancer?

  • Age – The risk increases as you age.
  • Ethnicity – Generally, men of African descent have a higher risk of prostate cancer than Caucasian men. They are also more likely to develop prostate cancer at an earlier age and to have aggressive tumours that grow quickly. However, in recent years, more and more Asian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, particularly among those who have a lifestyle with less physical activity and a less healthy diet.
  • Genetics – A family history of prostate cancer or breast cancer is a major risk factor.
  • Obesity – Prostate cancer is more difficult to treat when the patient is obese, due to other advanced diseases linked to obesity.


Q: What are the stages of prostate cancer and what are the treatment options?

Like most types of cancers, there are four stages of prostate cancer. The stages define the extent of which the cancer has grown and spread.

Treatment options include surgery, radiation or systemic treatments. The options depend on several factors, such as how aggressively your cancer is spreading, to what extent it has spread and your overall health condition, as well as the benefits and the potential side effects of treatments.

In early stages of prostate cancer, immediate treatment may not be necessary. Your doctor may advise you to actively monitor your condition instead of starting treatment right away.


Q: Are there certain foods or diets that men should avoid to lower the risk of prostate cancer?

Diets that are high in saturated animal fats and red meat are associated with a high incidence of prostate cancer. Eating less animal fat and more of fruits and vegetables coupled with regular exercises is recommended.


Q: Do you have any other advice for men who are at risk of prostate cancer? 

It is important for you to see your GP if you have any of the above symptoms to rule out cancer. The chances of survival are generally good if diagnosed at an early stage. Most men with early prostate cancer may have no symptoms. In some cases, the cancer cells can grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, such as the bones. Therefore, regular health screenings are a must, to ensure that any conditions are detected as early as possible.


MindChamps Medical offers health screening packages for Men, Women and Children. Check out our packages and make an online booking here.


This article is written with contribution from Dr William Tan, Medical Director, MindChamps Medical.


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