Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death for males in the UK, claiming the lives of around 10,000 men every year. It most commonly affects men over 65.
The chance of developing increases if there is a family history. Men of African descent are also more likely to be affected.
What is the prostate?
- The prostate is only found in men. It is very important for a man's sex life, producing some of the fluid in semen. It is found below the bladder and is about the size of a walnut. It surrounds the tube that carries urine from the bladder.
- When something goes wrong with the prostate, it can affect a man's sex life, his long term health and with prostate cancer can be fatal (although more men die with prostate cancer than because of it).
What can go wrong with the prostate?
- Benign disease (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia - BPH) - the prostate slowly gets bigger as men get older This can cause difficulty when passing urine as the growing prostate puts pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder. BPH is treatable and is rare in men under 50.
- Prostatitis - an inflammation of the prostate gland that causes difficulty when passing urine. Prostatitis is treatable and can occur in men of any age.
- Prostate cancer - a single cell in the prostate begins to multiply out of control and forms a tumour. Some cells may break away and travel to other parts of the body, starting new tumours. Prostate cancer is treatable and can be cured in many cases. It is rare in men under 50 but gets more common as men get older.
The symptoms of prostate disease are similar:
- Needing to urinate often, especially at night
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- Straining to urinate or taking a long time to finish
- Pain when urinating or ejaculating
Other less common symptoms:
- Pain in lower back, hips or pelvis
- Blood in the urine (this is unusual)
However, these symptoms are often not cancer. Some prostate cancers grow slowly and may not cause problems. Some grow quickly and need early treatment. If you are worried about any of these symptoms, you should go and see your doctor.
For more information on prostate cancer
The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS) has information on prostate problems www.baus.org.uk/patients/symptoms/luts.htm
If you have a question about any prostate health issue, you can ask a highly qualified health professional via the European Men’s Health Forum’s free, online and confidential service www.yourprostate.eu