Men's Health - What you need to know about prostate cancer

Men's Health

Almost 50,000 men get diagnosed with prostate cancer every year making it the most common cancer to affect men.

Helen Marsden

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About prostate cancer.

Almost 50,000 men get diagnosed with prostate cancer every year making it the most common cancer to affect men. The prostate is a walnut sized gland that lies in front of your bladder surrounding your urethra and is responsible for making semen. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells in the prostate start growing uncontrollably. Some prostate cancers remain localised, in which case treatment may not even be needed, while others can be more aggressive and spread to other parts of the body.

Who’s at risk?

Like many cancers, the risk of prostate cancer rises with age - if you’re over 50 then your risk is higher. Family history and ethnicity also play a part; if a close family member has suffered from prostate cancer your risk increases. Black men also have an increased risk of prostate cancer. If you get prostate cancer, being overweight raises your risk of the cancer being aggressive.

What to look out for.

Prostate cancer causes your prostate gland to become inflamed and enlarged, putting pressure on your urinary tract which can cause problems with urinating. Typical symptoms include difficulty in starting to urinate, interrupted flow, greater frequency of urination and the feeling that you haven’t managed to empty your bladder fully.

What tests are there?

The most common test for prostate cancer is the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test. Most cancers release certain proteins into the blood stream which can be measured in a blood test. PSA is a controversial test because PSA can also be elevated in benign (non-cancerous) conditions of the prostate. Some experts believe that invasive investigations (like biopsy) for elevated PSA readings can do more harm than good; and that if cancer is found, aggressive treatments can impact your quality of life when the cancer may well be localised and slow-growing.

However, as prostate cancer can develop without symptoms in its early stages, a PSA test, or a more advanced PSA ratio test, may be the only way of detecting that something is wrong. The earlier prostate cancer is detected, the better your chances of survival; if it is caught before it spreads to other parts of your body, your chances of surviving for 5 years are almost the same as for a man who hasn’t been diagnosed with prostate cancer.  As with many cancers, early detection saves lives.

When to start?

Although your risk rises with age, we believe that men under the age of 50 can benefit from a prostate cancer check, especially if they have any risk factors for prostate cancer. Even with no risk factors, knowing what’s “normal for you” when it comes to cancer markers means that you are in a better position to notice a change. An unexpected rise in PSA can be the trigger to investigate further.

Which is why we add a PSA test to our range of comprehensive health checks for men.

Prostate Cancer tests

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