Aches and pains that could signal prostate cancer

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The good news is it has one of the highest survival rates of any type of cancer due to the slow speed in which it grows and spreads, as well as early detection.


According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), nearly 270,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, but many never experience symptoms and, without screening, would never know they had the disease.



For men who do experience symptoms, they may include:

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction or ED)
  • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord

“It’s common to experience aches after a day of yard work or an intense workout, but prolonged pain in the hips and groin could be a sign of something more serious,” says Dr. Nebasi Valantine, family medicine physician with Aspirus. “Men should talk with their provider about having a prostate cancer screening if they are experiencing prolonged pain or stiffness in the lower back, achy thighs or hips, or discomfort while sitting.”



Aspirus Health Screening Guidelines recommend that men aged 50 and older get screened annually for prostate cancer.


The most common screening tool for prostate cancer is the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This blood test measures the presence of PSA circulating in the bloodstream and is usually the first step in any prostate cancer diagnosis. A digital rectal exam is less effective than the PSA blood test in finding prostate cancer, but it can sometimes find cancers in men with normal PSA levels. Therefore, it may be included as a part of prostate cancer screening.


Risk Factors

ACS statistics show that the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50 and more than half of prostate cancer cases are found in men older than 65.


Those with the highest risk of developing the deadly disease are African American men, who are more than twice as likely to die of prostate cancer as all other men. Other major risk factors for developing prostate cancer include having a father or brother with prostate cancer and/or an unhealthy diet. In fact, studies indicate that men who eat a lot of high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of developing prostate cancer.



Take the time to think about getting screened and talk with your provider to review available information on prostate cancer screenings. For more information about advanced treatments and technology available at Aspirus, visit