Prostate Cancer: Symptoms To Look Out For

26.03.2021

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in males, accounting for around 26% of cases in the UK. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their lifetime, but it is a highly treatable condition if caught in the early stages. It is usually a slow-developing cancer, and symptoms may not appear for many years. If you are worried about the disease or are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer, it is a good idea to make an appointment with your GP.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a gland that sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra; its main job is to help produce semen. Prostate cancer occurs when the cells within the prostate gland start to grow in an uncontrolled way.

It is very common in males, although sometimes it grows too slowly to cause any problems or reduce your lifespan. Because of this, there are some cases where men with slow growing prostate cancer will not require any treatment, with many men dying of other diseases or natural causes before prostate cancer causes significant problems. However, many prostate cancers are deemed as more aggressive, and can quickly spread to other areas of the body. It is important to detect and treat this type of prostate cancer, as earlier detection means a higher likelihood of survival.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

It is very common for men with prostate cancer to not show any symptoms at all. This is why it is crucial to determine your personal risk. Higher risk individuals without symptoms should undergo a prostate screening, which can detect changes that indicate cancer may be present.

When symptoms do appear, it is usually because of where the cancer has grown, or because the growth is large enough to affect the urethra and surrounding organs.

Males who experience symptoms may notice any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty with urinating (starting and maintaining)
  • A frequent urge to urinate (especially at night)
  • Feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
  • Pain when urinating
  • Blood in semen
  • Blood in urine
  • Pain during ejaculation
  • Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection
  • Pain or discomfort in some seated positions
  • Prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body can cause weight loss and pain in the back, hips or pelvis.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer; but there is a chance you may do. It is important that you go to get checked out by a medical professional as soon as possible.

Who is more at risk of developing prostate cancer?

Although it is unknown what the cause of prostate cancer is, some people are more at risk of developing this type of cancer than others. There are genetic, environmental and natural causes that increase your chance of suffering from the disease. If you can relate to this from a personal point of view, then you will know whether you are within a higher risk category and should look at booking an appointment with a GP.

  • Age – The chances of developing prostate cancer increases as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50+. The most common age to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years of age. The risk for under 50s is very low, but it is still possible.
  • Genetics and family history – If you have a family history of prostate cancer, it might increase your own risk of developing the disease. If your father, grandfather or brother has had it, you are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer. This statistic is even greater if your relative was under 60 when he was diagnosed. You are also more at risk if your mother, grandmother or sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Ethnicity – For reasons we do not yet understand, black males are at higher risk of developing prostate cancer than other men. In the UK, the likelihood of developing the cancer is 1 in 4 for black men. If you are a black man and over the age of 45, it is advised you book a prostate screening, especially if you have relatives who have had prostate or breast cancer.

Testing for prostate cancer

There is no single test for prostate cancer. Testing for prostate cancer usually involves:

  • Blood tests (measuring the levels of PSA in the blood)
  • A physical examination (digital rectal examination)
  • An MRI scan
  • A prostate biopsy

Book an appointment with a specialist

If you are worried that you may have prostate cancer, or are showing unusual symptoms and are unsure of the cause, book an appointment with a GP today. You know your own body better than anyone else, so if you have come across something that doesn’t seem right and you are worried about it, it’s always worth getting checked by a medical professional as soon as possible.

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