CANCER can heavily impact the body’s biological functions, including those involved in the reproductive system. Unfortunately, very few symptoms appear until the disease is advanced. But an increased frequency of your trips to the bathroom may be an early sign of cancer.
Cancer symptoms can be varied and indistinct, but the most common warning signs include unexplained weight loss, unusual swelling and lumps. Broadening the spectrum of clinical symptoms could help millions receive a timely diagnosis in the coming years. This, in turn, may help save more lives. According to some health bodies, frequent trips to the bathroom may signify early-stage cancer.
After lung cancer, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in men.
The condition affects around 52,3000 new people in the UK every year – roughly 140 new cases per day.
The disease starts in a small area of the prostate gland, which is part of the male reproductive system. Due to its location beneath the bladder, the urethra (which carries urine out of the body) is often affected by the tumour. This, in turn, can lead to changes in the appearance and frequency of urination.
The Urology Care Foundation states that in the early stages, “prostate cancer has no symptoms”.
“When symptoms do occur,” the body adds, “they can be like those of an enlarged prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia”.
Symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia include urinating “eight or more times a day”, according to the National Institute of Digestive and Kidney Diseases.
Speaking to the Mirror, leading urologist Petr Holy, of Men’s Health Clinic in Kingston, said: “While changes in toilet habits can sometimes be a temporary issue caused by factors such as diet and lifestyle.
“An urgent need to wee, more frequent trips to the toilet, a slow or interrupted flow and a feeling of still needing to urinate even when you have finished are among the most common red flags.
“It’s vital for men to be on alert for any of these changes and seek advice from an expert if it becomes a pattern.”
The sense of urgency to pee often comes from leaking urine, known as urge incontinence.
Another type of incontinence commonly seen in patients is stress incontinence, which occurs when the body strains during a sneeze.
These urges may be more pronounced at night, which is known as nocturia – a notoriously disruptive and overwhelming condition.
When nocturia is symptomatic of cancer, changes in the colour of urine may leap to the eye.
The mixture of blood and urine can cause the colour of pee to turn bright pink, red or dark brown.
This tends to occur in the advanced stages of the condition, when blood infiltrates urine through the urethra, according to the American Cancer Society.
At this stage of the disease, there is also a risk of metastasis, where a tumour invades neighbouring tissue.
When cancer spreads to the spinal cord, it can cause weakness or numbness in the legs or feet or a loss of bladder and bowel control.
Cancer: The signs and symptoms you should know
The most common signs that the disease has spread are swelling and pain around the site of the tumour.
Occasionally this may cause a build-up of water in the legs, as the lymphatic nodes lose their ability to drain the excess liquid.
Any changes to the body’s biological functions should arouse suspicion, and warrant investigation by a health practitioner.
This is important because prostate cancer can significantly shorten a man’s lifespan if it isn’t caught and treated early, according to the American Cancer Society.