How much do you know about prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer makes up for over 13% of all cancers diagnosed in England. It currently affects 1 in 6 men and 40,000 new diagnosis’ occur every year so it's important to know the risks and signs.


What is a prostate?

Many of us have heard about prostate cancer, but what is a prostate and why do we have it? Firstly, a prostate is a gland about the size of a walnut, found only in men. It is in front of the rectum and the urethra runs through it (which helps release urine out of the body). It also has an important job in protecting sperm.


Prostate cancer risk factors

  • It is rare for men under the age of 45 to develop this type of cancer. The usual age for prostate cancer diagnosis is from 50 years old and over.

  • If you have several relatives who have had this type of cancer, your chance of developing it is increased.

  • If your mother or sister has developed breast cancer under the age of 50 and had genes BRCA1 OR BRCA2 with no faults, you are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer.

  • Having family history of prostate cancer puts you at higher risk of developing the same.

Prostate cancer symptoms

Prostate cancer is commonly known to be a slow developing cancer, yet it is important to recognise that it has the potential to spread fast. Because it normally spreads slowly, the symptoms are often hidden for years.


You will notice symptoms only at the point where your prostate has enlarged to a substantial size. This will then affect your urethra, causing pressure and will have an impact on the way in which you pass urine. You could feel like you have not finished passing urine or that you are needing it more often than usual. Having these symptoms will not mean you definitely have prostate cancer, but it is always sensible to get checked for peace of mind if you experience any of these changes.

There are 3 types of prostate cancer stages:

  • Early prostate cancer - This is a localised cancer found only in the gland of the prostate.

  • Locally- advanced prostate cancer - This is when the cancer has spread to tissues surrounding the prostate

  • Advanced prostate cancer – This is where the cancer has progressed and spread to other areas of the body

Screening

Screening for prostate cancer is not routine here in the UK, but if you are over 50 you have the option to ask your doctor for your PSA levels to be checked as part of the prostate cancer risk management programme. Your doctor will discuss this with you and you can decide whether to go ahead with it or not. There is a controversial debate as many men will carry the cancer for years without it needing treatment or shortening life. Therefore, screening for a diagnosis is not considered essential and people may be treated unnecessarily.

The ‘C’ word is a scary concept for many of us, but early detection could save lives. If you are aware you could be at higher risk of developing this type of cancer or have concerns about issues relating to the sensations when you pass urine, it is important to visit your GP as soon as possible.

References:

https://prostatecancerfree.org/prostate-cancer-risk-factors/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-cancer/

www.prostatecanceruk.org

www.macmillan.org.uk

www.ons.gov.uk

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