Signs Your Swelling Is Actually Prostate Cancer

Like any cancer, prostate cancer occurs when normal cells undergo genetic or molecular changes that cause them to grow uncontrollably. These abnormal cells in the prostate use male hormones to proliferate and spread to nearby parts of the body. Although prostate cancer develops slowly, untreated prostate cancer can spread to your liver, brain, and lungs.

Prostate cancer comes with no early warning signs. That's why the Prostate Center Foundation recommends that men with no family history of cancer begin getting prostate cancer screenings at age 45. However, rare cases of prostate cancer can have urinary symptoms similar to those of an enlarged prostate, such as painful urination, incontinence, or blood in the urine. Prostate cancer could also cause painful ejaculation, pain in the rectum, or stiffness in the pelvic and thigh region. If you notice any swelling in your legs and feet, it could be a sign that the prostate cancer has spread beyond the prostate.

Why swelling might occur in prostate cancer

Your lymph nodes play a key role in your immune system, attacking germs and infections to get your body back to health. When you're sick, you might notice the swelling of the lymph nodes in your neck as the lymphocytes do their work. Your body's lymphatic system is similar to your blood vessels, only the lymphatic system carries lymph fluid.

When prostate cancer spreads to your lymph nodes, your lymphatic system can become blocked and this fluid can become trapped in places like your legs. This is called lymphedema, and it's not unique to prostate cancer. Sometimes prostate cancer treatments can cause lymphedema. This swelling can be painful and make your legs feel heavy. You might also notice that the skin at the area of swelling feels tight, and it might be difficult to move that part of the body. With prostate cancer, you might also feel this swelling in your penis or scrotum.

Other signs prostate cancer has spread

Lymphedema isn't the only sign that prostate cancer has spread. Your bones are the most common place that prostate cancer could spread, according to Cancer Research UK. Because the prostate is located in the lower abdomen, the spine, pelvis, or ribs could develop cancer. The cancer could also reach the skull. If the cancer has spread to your bones, you'll feel pain in that area, enough to keep you awake. The bones are also more susceptible to fractures. Feeling pain in your back could mean that the prostate cancer has spread to the vertebrae in your spine and could compress the spinal cord.

Advanced prostate cancer could also cause extreme fatigue to the point that it's difficult to perform simple tasks like getting dressed or showering. You could also be so tired that you don't want to engage in any social activities. Even though you might feel extremely tired, you could have trouble sleeping, which could affect your concentration, memory, and mood.