Prostate cancer symptoms can be mistaken for less serious conditions, but it’s important to be aware of them because the cancer is so common.
The prostate gland is located in the pelvis, between the penis and the bladder.
It isn’t usually until after the cancer has grown and puts pressure on the urethra (the tube that connects the urinary bladder to the penis) that symptoms begin to show.
But when this happens it will alter the way a man urinates. There are six signs to look out for, according to Professor Mark Emberton from The Princess Grace Hospital, part of HCA Healthcare UK.
Changes to look out for could include:
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- A weak flow when you do urinate
- The feeling that you bladder hasn’t emptied properly
- The desire to urinate more frequently – particularly at night
- A sudden urge to urinate
- Leaking urine before you get to the toilet
Other symptoms to look out for, which could indicate that the cancer has spread beyond the prostate include:
- Back hip or pelvis pain
- Problems with getting or sustaining an erection
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Unexplained weight loss
Professor Emberton said: “If any changes in urination are noticed then it’s important to seek medical advice as quickly as possible to get checked out.
“However, it’s also important to note that in many cases, this will be related to a non-cancerous problem such as an enlarged prostate.”
What are the key risk factors of prostate cancer?
Professor Emberton said: “Although it is not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, there are a number of factors that can affect the risk of developing the disease.
These include age, family history, ethnicity, obesity and diet.
The risk of prostate cancer increases with age, with the average age of diagnosis between 65-69 years old, said Professor Emberton.
He added: “More than half the men diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK each year are aged 70 and over
however, it is not impossible for younger men to develop the disease – although it is uncommon.”
Men are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if their brother or father has had it.
Professor Emberton said: “There is an even greater risk if they have been diagnosed under the age of 60 or if more than one close relative has had prostate cancer.”
One in four black men in the UK will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives, according to Professor Emberton.
He added: “ It is more common in men of African- Caribbean and African descent than in white men, and it is even less common in Asian men. It is not known why this happens, but we believe there is a genetic link.”
It is not known how to prevent prostate cancer but we do know staying at a healthy weight is
Professor Emberton said: “Research suggests that if a man is overweight or obese, his chance of being diagnosed with aggressive or advanced prostate cancer is increased.”
Professor Emberton said: “Although research is still ongoing surrounding the links between prostate cancer and diet, there is in
fact some evidence to suggest that a diet high in calcium increases the risk of prostate cancer.”
How is prostate cancer treated?
The type of treatment offered for prostate cancer patients will vary depending on whether the cancer is localised (contained within the prostate gland), locally advanced (spread just outside the prostate) or advanced (spread to other parts of the body).
This being said, for many men with prostate cancer, no surgical or medicinal plans are required, according to Professor Emberton.
He explained: “This long-term plan involves regular checkups and monitoring to make sure that the cancer isn’t causing any symptoms or problems.
“If treatment is needed then doctors will first identify at what stage the cancer is at, before determining the best
course of action.
“There are several different treatment options available for prostate cancer patients including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy.”