Prostate cancer occurs occurs when cells in the prostate gland start to grow uncontrollably. The prostate is a gland found only in males. It makes some of the fluid that is part of semen. The prostate is below the bladder and in front of the rectum.
Most men with early prostate cancer do not experience any symptoms. It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years.
Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate has grown large enough to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).
According to Prostate Cancer UK, these are the warning signs to watch out for:
- Difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
- A weak flow when you urinate
- A feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
- Dribbling urine after you finish urinating
- Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
- A sudden urge to urinate – you may sometimes leak before you get to the toilet.
If prostate cancer spreads to other parts of the body, men may experience a range of other symptoms, including:
- Back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
- Problems getting or keeping an erection
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Unexplained weight loss.
Even if none of these symptoms appear, the charity recommends getting checked out if you’re over 50, have a family history of prostate cancer, or are a black man – these are risk factors associated with the condition.
According to the NHS, the cancer has also been linked to obesity and diet. Although the link is not exactly clear, a study published last year sheds new light on its association with obesity. The research, conducted on mice, suggests there could be a connection to genetic makeup.
Commenting on the findings, Prostate Cancer UK’s director of research, Dr Iain Frame, said: “The models of prostate cancer being explored by this study are helping us to develop a picture of how genetics and obesity work together to affect a man’s risk of developing aggressive forms of the disease.
“In the long term, this knowledge may help us make more effective predictions about which men’s prostate cancers are likely to spread, and potentially also help develop new treatments to prevent this from happening in the first place.”
How do you treat prostate cancer?
For some men living with prostate cancer, treatment might not be an option if the cancer has already spread. In these cases, the aim is not to cure it but to prolong life and delay symptoms. According to the NHS, there are number of factors that will determine the best course of action, including:
- The type and size of the cancer
- What grade it is
- Your general health
- Whether the cancer has spread to other parts of your body
- Early detection is therefore essential. A GP will typically run a number of tests to determine whether a man has prostrate cancer. The may include:
- Ask for a urine sample to check for infection
- Take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing
- Examine your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into your bottom – called digital rectal examination
“Your GP will assess your risk of having prostate cancer based on a number of factors, including your PSA levels and the results of your prostate examination, as well as your age, family history and ethnic group,” said the health body.