What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer usually develops in older men.
The prostate gland (which only men have) lies just beneath the bladder. It is approximately the size of a chestnut and its primary function is to produce fluid which enriches and protects sperm, and also helps with the carriage of sperm out of the penis during ejaculation.
Cancer is a disease where abnormal cells in the body begin to grow, divide and reproduce in an uncontrollable way. These abnormal cells then invade and destroy healthy tissue, including organs and glands. Prostate cancer develops when some of the cells in your prostate gland start to grow out of control in this way, invading and destroying healthy cells.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
Occasionally passing of blood when urinating
Painful and problematic urinating
Pain and stiffness in your lower back, thigh bones and hips
Pain at the base of the penis
Tiredness and loss of appetite
Most, if not all, of these symptoms are common among older men. However, if you are experiencing these symptoms, please arrange an appointment with your GP.
As with other cancers, the exact reason as to why prostate cancer develops is unknown. However, risk factors may include things like: a poor diet (that is high in fat and low in fruit and vegetables), ageing, genetics, and also your ethnic group (prostate cancer is most common in African-Caribbean men).
If you are suffering from the aforementioned symptoms, then it is important to arrange an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. He or she will carry out two simple tests that can help diagnose prostate cancer:
A PSA test – a blood test to measure levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood
A Digital Rectal Examination to check your prostate’s size and shape and whether any lumps can be detected
Note: PSA is a protein produced exclusively by your prostate gland. If your PSA level rises, this may be an indication of prostate cancer, and your GP may wish to refer you to an urologist for further tests.
Treatment options for prostate cancer include:
Hormone therapy – where the prostate is ‘starved’ of testosterone in order to try to slow down the spread of cancerous cells from your prostate
Surgery – where the prostate is removed
Brachytherapy – where radioactive seeds are implanted in the prostate
Advice & Support
The Prostate Cancer Charity
Confidential Helpline: 0800 074 8383
Website: www.prostate-cancer.org.uk , e-mail here
Provides support and information for patients and their families
Tel. 020 8788 7720
Website: www.prostateuk.org , e-mail here
A national charity dealing with all prostate diseases, including prostate cancer
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