Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men with about 40,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the UK. Survival rates for prostate cancer are fairly good with 81% of patients surviving for at least five years after diagnosis.

Black Men and Prostate Cancer

Black men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, being  twice as likely likely to develop this disease than their white counterparts. In addition, black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer at a slightly younger age being 5 years younger than white men when diagnosed and are more likely to develop aggressive forms of the disease. For these reasons it is especially important that black men are aware of the symptoms to ensure an early diagnosis. If prostate cancer is diagnosed early the chances of survival are very good – over 90% of men diagnosed at an early stage will survive for at least 5 years.

For more information about black men’s risk, please view Prostate Cancer UK’e video below:

Symptoms 

The main symptoms are:

  • Needing to urinate more often;
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
  • A weak flow of urine
  • Needing to rush to use the toilet
  • Pain in the lower back, hips or pelvis.

If you have these symptoms, try not to worry as it may not be prostate cancer, these symptoms could be due to an enlarged prostate. Please do visit your GP so that prostate cancer can be ruled out.

Less common symptoms of prostate cancer include:

  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain during sex
  • Difficulty getting or keeping an erection
  • Blood in urine

Risk Factors

There are certain factors that increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. These factors include:

  • Age: as you get older your risk of developing prostate cancer increases. Most cases occur in men who are over the age of 40
  • Family history: Men who have first-degree relative with prostate cancer have a significantly higher risk of developing prostate cancer and men with a mother diagnosed with breast cancer also have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer
  • Diet: an unhealthy diet can increase your risk

Diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you may have prostate cancer he may carry out the following tests:

  • A digital rectal exam – this is a physical examination of the rectum to feel for any abnormalities on the prostate
  • PSA blood test – this is a blood test that measures the level of a protein called prostate specific antigen. This protein can be raised in prostate cancer but can be raised for a number of other reasons too so it is not an accurate test for the presence of prostate cancer but can give your doctor an indication of whether something is wrong
  • A urine test – to see if your symptoms were caused by a urine infection or prostatitis (infection or inflammation of the prostate gland)

If the above tests suggest that you may have a problem with your prostate your GP will refer you to the hospital for further tests.  These can include:

  • Another PSA test
  • Scans (MRI, CT and a bone scan) – these allow your doctor to get a clear picture of your prostate to see whether there are any abnormalities in your prostate, surrounding tissue and bones
  • A biopsy – if the scans show an abnormality in the prostate a small sample of the abnormality is removed and tested for prostate cancer. The biopsy confirms the diagnosis

Treatment

Treatmentdepends on how far the cancer has spread and how aggressive it is. Treatment may involve the following:

  • Watchful waiting – if the cancer is not  aggressive and you are older, your doctor may decide to delay treatment as the cancer may not develop much further and is unlikely to affect your health and natural life span. You will have regular check-ups and if anything changes your doctor will then decide on a course treatment.
  • Surgery – removal of the prostate gland
  • Radiotherapy – the use of high energy rays to kill the cancer cells
  • Hormone therapy – some prostate cancers are dependent on hormones for their growth. Hormone therapy cuts off the cancer supply of hormones, this stops the cancer from growing.
  • Cryotherapy–kills cancer cells by freezing them
  • Steroids – this is usually used when hormone therapy doesn’t work. It stops the cancer from growing
  • High Intensity Focus Ultrasound – high intensity ultrasound waves are focus on the cancer and this causes the cancer cells to heat up and die.

Prostate Cancer Screening

There is no national screening programme for prostate cancer. This is because there isn’t a test accurate enough to detect prostate cancer at an early stage before symptoms occur.

If you are at a high risk of developing prostate cancer because you have a family history of prostate and/or breast cancer speak to your GP/family doctor about whether  regular PSA test is right for you.

More Information

For more information about prostate cancer you can visit Prostate Cancer UK’s website or contact us

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