Annual physicals are important to men as they age, needing senior care, but it’s not a good idea to depend totally on doctors to spot cancer. You need to listen to your body and notice anything that’s different, odd, or unexplainable. (You also need to listen to people close to you, a wife, partner or senior care giver, because other people sometimes notice things we’re unaware of — or don’t want to admit.) Here is one way to tell if a symptom is worth having a doctor’s checkup or not: Is it going away, or slowly worsening over time? But don’t be afraid to ask the doctor for help, even if you’re not sure; you don’t want to join the ranks of cancer patients who realized too late that symptoms they’d noticed for a long time but ignored could have been treated earlier when the cancer would have been easier to cure.

Burning or pain during urination

This symptom could indicate a urinary tract infection or sexually transmitted disease, but whatever the case you need an immediate trip to the doctor. This is a big 911 now. Don’t wait to see if these symptoms go away. These symptoms are often combined with the feeling that you need to go more often, especially at night. These same symptoms can also indicate diabetes, inflammation or infection in the prostate or benign prostatic hyperplasia (the name for what happens when the prostate grows bigger and blocks the flow of urine). However, you need to get checked out now to tell the difference. As a senior getting senior care you might not want to tell your care giver that you have a problem, but you have to remember that your senior care giver is there to help you get medical attention when you need it.

Difficulty urinating or changes in flow

One of the most common signs of prostate cancer is a feeling of not being able to start peeing once you’re set to go. Many men also report a hard time stopping the flow of urine, a flow that starts and stops, or a stream that’s weaker than normal. These symptoms are also commonly associated with prostate enlargement that’s benign, called benign prostatic hyperplasia. Either way, it’s important to bring prostate-related symptoms to your doctor’s attention and discuss tests for prostate cancer. If your senior care giver notices that it is taking you longer to go than it used to, she may be the one to call this to your attention.

Blood in urine or semen

Men are often warned about blood in the urine, but they may not realize that blood in semen can also be a danger sign for prostate cancer. Blood in the urine or semen doesn’t necessarily look like blood; urine could appear just to be a pink, dark red, or smoky brown color, while blood in the semen may just look like a pinkish streak.

Pain, aching, or heaviness in the groin, hips, thighs, or abdomen

One sign of prostate cancer is frequent pain in the hips, upper thighs, or the lowest part of the back that slowly worsens over time. Men with testicular cancer report noticing a heavy, aching feeling low in the belly or abdomen, or in the scrotum or testicles themselves. They sometimes describe it as a feeling of downward pulling or as a generalized ache throughout the groin area. Prostate cancer that has spread to the lymph nodes often makes itself known as discomfort in the pelvis or swelling in the legs. If your senior care giver has been helping you with your exercises, be sure and tell that person if you have pain and where.

Unexplained back pain

Back pain can mean all sorts of things, of course — most often pulled muscles or disc problems. But unexplained, persistent back pain can be an early sign of cancer as well, so get it checked out. Pain in the lower back and hips can be a sign of prostate cancer. Remember the earlier you get this checked out, the easier it is to cure.

Erection problems

As prostate cancer progresses, another very common sign is difficulty getting or sustaining an erection. This can be a very difficult subject to talk about, but it’s important to bring it to your doctor’s attention. It could be a sign of sexual dysfunction with another cause, of course, but it’s a reason to have an exam and discuss testing for prostate cancer. Don’t wait around for this to get better before going to the doctor, no matter how embarrassed you feel.

All of these symptoms can be hard to talk to your doctor about; but when you have cancer, early detection gives you the best chance for a cure.