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Prostate Cancer


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  • • 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime – a new case is diagnosed every 15 minutes.
  •    One man dies from prostate cancer every hour.
  • • This year 40,000 men will be diagnosed and 10,000 will lose their lives to the disease.
  • • Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men
  • • The incidence rates are 3 times higher in African Caribbean men.
  • • Men are 2.5 times more likely to get prostate cancer if a father or brother has had it


Only men have a prostate gland. It is the size of a walnut and its main function is to help make semen.
The prostate is underneath the bladder and surrounds the tube that men pass urine through (the urethra).

Normally the growth of all cells is carefully controlled in the body. As cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion. Cancer can develop when cells start to grow in an uncontrolled way. If this happens in the prostate gland, prostate cancer can develop.

Prostate cancer can grow slowly or very quickly. Most prostate cancer is slow-growing to start with and may never cause any symptoms or problems in a man’s lifetime. However, some men will have cancer that is more aggressive or ‘high risk.’ This needs treatment to help prevent or delay it spreading outside the prostate gland.


Men with prostate cancer may have no symptoms at all. If a man does have symptoms, they may be mild and happen over many years. When they do occur, symptoms can be similar to non-cancerous prostate problems such as benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) or prostatitis. For some men the first noticeable symptoms are from prostate cancer which has spread to their bones.

The following may be signs of a prostate problem such as prostate cancer:

    • A weak urine flow
    • Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
    • A feeling that your bladder has not emptied properly
    • Difficulty starting to pass urine
    • Dribbling urine

Needing to rush to the toilet

If men experience any of these symptoms or have any questions about their risk of prostate cancer they should visit their GP.

In the UK, 1 in 9 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and men of black African and black Caribbean descent are more at risk.

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years. If you are under 50 then your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Younger men can be affected, but this is rare

Family history
You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has been diagnosed with it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer. There might be a higher chance of a man developing prostate cancer if his relative was under 60 when he was diagnosed or he had more than one close relative with prostate cancer.

Researchers have found some characteristics in genes that might be passed on through your parents and could increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Only 5 – 10% of prostate cancers are thought to be strongly linked to genes. Researchers have found that changes in two genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2 can increase a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer. Changes in these genes are rare and having these genes does not necessarily mean you will get prostate cancer.

In the UK, African Caribbean men are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men of the same age. The reasons for this increased risk are not yet clear but may be due to changes in their genes passed down through generations

Men living in Western countries are more likely to get prostate cancer than men in South and East Asian countries. This may be because of the Western diet, which contains less fruit and vegetables and more dairy, red meat, sugar and processed foods. Eating a healthy, balanced diet with a wide variety of foods, including plenty of fruit and vegetables, may help to prevent prostate cancer.

The purpose of screening is to detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages, before any symptoms have developed.

Typically, prostate cancer that’s detected by screening is in the very early-stages and can be treated most effectively. A doctor can screen for prostate cancer quickly and easily in their office using two tests:

The PSA Blood Test
PSA is a protein produced by the prostate and released in very small amounts into the bloodstream. When there’s a problem with the prostate—like the development and growth of prostate cancer—more and more PSA is released. It eventually reaches a level where it can be easily detected in the blood. During a PSA test, a small amount of blood is drawn from the arm, and the level of PSA is measured.

The Digital Rectal Exam
During a DRE, the doctor inserts a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum and examines the prostate for any irregularities in size, shape, and texture. Often, the DRE can be used by urologists to help distinguish between prostate cancer and non-cancerous conditions.

The question of screening is a personal and complex one. It’s important for every man to talk with his doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is right for him.

There is no unanimous opinion in the medical community regarding the benefits of prostate cancer screening. Those who advocate regular screening believe that finding and treating prostate cancer early offers men more treatment options with potentially fewer side effects.

Ultimately, decisions about screening should be individual and based on a man’s level of risk, overall health, and life expectancy, as well as his desire for eventual treatment if he is diagnosed with prostate cancer. When to start screening is generally based on individual risk, with age 40 being a reasonable time to start screening for those at highest risk (genetic predispositions or strong family histories of prostate cancer at a young age). For otherwise healthy men at high risk (positive family history or African American men), starting at age 40-45 is reasonable.

It’s important for men to create a proactive prostate health plan based on your lifestyle and family history, as well as to discuss these tests with your doctor to make the screening decisions that are best for you.

To find out more about prostate cancer visit the Prostate Cancer UK website

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