Prostate cancer is cancer that occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm, according to Mayo Clinic. The cancer usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. If signs do appear, however, you may notice it impacts your sleeping pattern.
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As the NHS explains, symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).
When this happens, it can cause a number of symptoms that may wreak havoc upon your sleeping routine.
One of the primary sleep disrupters comes in the form of nocturia – a condition in which you wake up during the night because you have to urinate.
An increased need to urinate is a warning sign of prostate cancer so if you feel you are waking up to go to the toilet more than usual in the night it may signal the deadly disease.
Another symptom that can disrupt the sleep-cycle is fatigue.
Fatigue is a feeling of extreme tiredness that doesn’t go away, even after you rest.
Fatigue is very common in men with prostate cancer – around three in four men with prostate cancer (74 percent) will have fatigue at some point.
Despite the persistent tiredness, fatigue can lead to sleep loss because the body does not feel sufficiently rested, discouraging the sleep-cycle.
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Not sleeping well at night, which can be triggered by the fatigue itself or the need to urinate, can also make your fatigue worse, explains Prostate Cancer UK.
While the symptoms of prostate cancer should not be ignored, they do not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer, as the NHS explains.
The symptoms are more likely caused by prostate enlargement – a condition can affect how you pass urine.
Nonetheless, if you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, you should visit your GP, warns the NHS.
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How to test for prostate cancer
According to the NHS, there’s no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. Your GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
Your doctor is likely to:
- Ask for a urine sample to check for infection
- Take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing
- Examine your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into your bottom – called digital rectal examination
Your GP will assess your risk of having prostate cancer based on a number of factors, including your PSA levels and the results of your prostate examination, as well as your age, family history and ethnic group.
If you’re at risk, you should be referred to hospital to discuss the options of further tests, says the NHS.
How to prevent prostate cancer
According to Mayo Clinic, there’s no tried-and-tested way to prevent prostate cancer but steps can be taken reduce your risk of prostate cancer.
There is some evidence that choosing a healthy diet that’s low in fat and full of fruits and vegetables may contribute to a lower risk of prostate cancer, notes the health site.
Obesity has also been associated with prostate cancer risk so it is important to control your weight.
“You can do this by reducing the number of calories you eat each day and increasing the amount of exercise you do,” explained Mayo Clinic.
Studies also suggest exercising is directly associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer and provides additional health benefits, such as slashing your risk of heart disease.
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