Prostate Cancer Awareness
The prostate is a small gland in men that produces the seminal fluid that nourishes and transports sperm.The gland grows throughout your life, and as you grow older, you may begin to notice symptoms from this growth.
Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men. The risk of developing prostate cancer during life is approximately 15%. The risk of dying from prostate cancer is about 3% – meaning that most people who get the disease do not die from it.
Researchers do not know exactly what causes prostate cancer. They have found that there is a link between with heritage , hormones, diet and level of physical activity. About 10 percent of all prostate cancers diagnosed are hereditary, meaning that an increased risk for the disease runs in the family.
Symptoms – Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. The most common symptoms are:
- Frequent urination
- Pain or burning during urination
- Weak or interrupted urine flow or the need to strain to empty the bladder
- Blood in the urine or in the seminal fluid
- For some, the first symptoms of prostate cancer may occur as a result of metastasis, specially to the bones/skeleton, and this will cause symptoms such as bone pain.
Urinary symptoms does not necessarily mean you have cancer. Prostatitis or BPH (Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, also known as enlargement of the prostate) are benign diseases, but can cause similar symptoms and are very common.
There’s no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. Your GP will assess your risk of having prostate cancer based on a number of factors; symptoms, PSA levels and the results of your prostate examination, as well as your age and family history.
Your doctor is likely to:
- 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 the rectum – called digital rectal examination
If you’re at risk, you should be referred to hospital to discuss the options of further tests.
Based on current knowledge, PSA-screening in healthy asymptomatic men is not recommended by the international medical community. This is because it has not been proved that the benefits would outweigh the risks.
The exceptions are:
- If there is accumulation of cancer in the prostate, ovary or breast in the family.
- If you have three or more close relatives with prostate cancer (regardless of age), or have two close relatives with prostate cancer below 60 years
Some men want to take the PSA screening even though they are not included in the exceptions described above. In these cases it is important that the person is made aware of the limitations of the test, and also of the health problems and worries an elevated test result may cause.