PROSTATE cancer is the most common cancer in men. Each year in the UK about 36,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and it accounts for 25 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of cancer in men.

The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 70 or older.

For reasons that are not understood, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, and less common in men of Asian descent.

The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that is found only in men. About the size of a walnut, it is located between the penis and the bladder. It surrounds the urethra, the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis. The main function of the prostate is to help in the production of semen.

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer normally causes no symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra. This sometimes results in problems associated with urination.

Symptoms can include:

• needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
• needing to rush to the toilet
• difficulty in starting to urinate or pee (hesitancy)
• straining or taking a long time while urinating
• weak flow
• feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully

Most commonly these symptoms are due to non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate which occurs with increasing age. They shouldn’t be ignored as they can be treated easily and allow the doctor or nurse to run tests which may exclude prostate cancer. Two of the best tests to exclude prostate cancer
are physical examination of the prostate and a blood test called PSA, Prostate Specific Antigen. Both can be obtained free from your family doctor.

What are the risk factors?

There are a number of known risk factors for developing prostate cancer, including:

• Age – the risk of prostate cancer rises with age, from about 50 years,
and increases as you get older.
• Ethnicity – prostate cancer is more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent. The condition is relatively rare among men of Asian and South and Central American descent.