What is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men with around 40,000 men in the UK diagnosed every year. It mostly affects men over the age of 50 and is rare in younger men. It is also more prevalent in males of African-Caribbean and African descent and it is diagnosed more frequently in those who have a close male relative, such as a brother, father or uncle who has had the condition.

It is only prevalent in males because only males have a prostate gland, which is a small organ that lies underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra that urine and semen are passed through (2 out of 3 adults don’t know the purpose of the prostate gland!).

Prostate cancer differs from most other cancers because many males may have some cancer in their prostate (50% of males over the age of 50), which may stay dormant for many years and are unlikely to cause any problems.

Symptoms generally relate to problems or changes in urination and include:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently than normal, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting to urinate and a weak flow when you urinate
  • Having to strain or taking a long time to finish urinating, then feeling that your bladder is not empty.
  • Not being able to control your urination.

There is currently no single definitive test for prostate cancer and if you have any of the symptoms above, you should see your GP who may do one of the following tests:

  • A urine sample to detect any infections
  • Measure your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA)
  • Examine your prostate
  • There is evidence to suggest that certain lifestyle behaviours can reduce your risk of developing prostate cancer. These include:
  • Stop smoking
  • Exercise habitually
  • Regularly include foods such as tomatoes, which contain a protective component lycopene, and brazil nuts, which contain selenium in your diet
  • Don’t consume significantly high levels of calcium, which has been shown to increase your risk of developing prostate cancer
  • Maintain a healthy weight

Further reading is available at

www.prostatecanceruk.org  and www.macmillan.org.uk

Posted in: Health and Wellbeing