According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that prostate cancer caused more deaths in men than all but one other cancer. Prostate cancer also is more prevalent than ever in Georgia, accounting for more diagnoses in the state during 2010 than any other cancer for men or women.

Because prostate cancer is so deadly and so common, it is extremely important to detect it as soon as possible. Though many times symptoms do not immediately appear, the cancer can still be found through early detection methods performed by a doctor.

There are many cases in which symptoms for prostate cancer are apparent, and these signs can aid in getting a diagnosis while the cancer is in its earliest stages. However, the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are nearly identical to several other conditions of the prostate gland, many of which are not life-threatening. This sometimes leaves men experiencing symptoms to wonder: are these signs indicating the existence of a benign condition or prostate cancer? Unfortunately, it is impossible to know if symptoms are caused by prostate cancer without a doctor running diagnostic tests to check for the presence of the disease.

There are three conditions of the prostate gland which produce very similar symptoms to prostate cancer, including:

• Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
  BPH is not a life-threatening condition, but shares a common symptom with prostate cancer: complications in urination. Basically, the tissues of the prostate grow over time and can eventually begin to hamper a man’s ability to urinate properly since the gland surrounds the area where the urethra and bladder meet. Some of these symptoms are pain during urination, frequent urination and decreased strength of urine flow. Because of its non-cancerous nature, men with BPH may not need any treatment. However, prostate cancer is a disease which can kill if not treated immediately and aggressively.

• Prostatitis.  This is a condition in which the prostate gland shows infection and inflammation. Despite the propensity to cause a fair amount of pain, prostatitis is generally not life-threatening and is not a form of cancer. Similar to BPH, prostatitis causes complications in urination. Again, these symptoms are often confused with those of prostate cancer. Whether a man has inflammation of his prostate or cancer of his prostate is vital.

• Urinary tract infection (UTI).  A UTI is another condition that mimics the symptoms of prostate cancer. Though much more common in women, men can still contract the condition.  While this type of problem ultimately has little to do with the prostate gland itself, the symptoms of UTIs and the signs of prostate cancer are very much alike. Experiencing different problems during urination is a common symptom of both of these conditions, just like BPH and prostatitis.

It is important to remember that swelling of the prostate over the course of a man’s life is common. Many of the symptoms associated with prostate cancer are typically caused by these or other benign conditions, and cancer is usually not present. However, if symptoms for prostate cancer are noticed, it is extremely important to talk to a doctor. If prostate cancer is developing, it is best to catch it as early as possible.