Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and tends to affect middle-aged men more. However, if discovered early, it can be treated.
What is prostate cancer?
Your prostate is a gland that’s about the size of a Satsuma, situated between the bladder and penis. Your prostate makes a fluid that combines with sperm to create semen.
Prostate cancer happens when a malignant tumour develops in the prostate.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
You may not experience any signs or symptoms of prostate cancer for a long time, even decades. However, when the cancer gets particularly large, some common symptoms include:
- Blood in your urine or semen
- Delay in releasing urine (known as hesitancy)
- Urge to urinate more often and during the night
- Weak flow of urine that takes a long time to come out
If you have these symptoms, you may not have prostate cancer, but a more benign condition called prostate enlargement.
If the cancer has spread beyond the prostate, you may also experience loss of appetite and weight, testicle pain, back pain and bone pain.
What causes prostate cancer?
It’s not clear what causes prostate cancer, but there are certain risk factors that make you more likely to get it, such as:
- Your genes – if you have a father or brother who gets prostate cancer before they’re 60, this might increase your chances
- Your age – your risk increases as you age, particularly when you’re over 50
- Your ethnicity – African and African-Caribbean are more likely to get it than white males
- If you’re overweight or obese
- Having a diet high in calcium
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
If you’re experiencing symptoms you think might be caused by prostate cancer, see your doctor. To help make a diagnosis, your doctor will ask you about your medical history and symptoms.
You will be given a physical examination, which might include a rectal exam. You may be referred for urine or blood tests.
If prostate cancer is suspected, your doctor may order a transrectal ultrasound, biopsy or PCA3 test to help confirm the diagnosis.
How is prostate cancer treated?
If found early, prostate cancer has a good survival rate. In many cases, you won’t need treatment – your doctor will recommend ‘watchful waiting’ (where you wait to see if any symptoms develop) or ‘active surveillance’ (where your doctor orders regular PSA tests, MRI scans and biopsies, in some cases, to see how the cancer is progressing) instead.
If your prostate cancer hasn’t spread too far, you may be recommended a surgery called a radical prostatectomy, in which your prostate is removed.
If the cancer has spread, your doctor will talk to you about your options to prolong your life and manage symptoms.
If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.