Can prostate cancer be prevented?

Written by: Mr Neil Haldar
Edited by: Lisa Heffernan

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men over the age of 50 in the UK and it’s estimated that one in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives. The risk increases with age, with a third of men diagnosed being over the age of 75. Cancer of the prostate occurs when the cells in the prostate grow and spread uncontrollably, creating a malignant tumour. If left untreated, this tumour can spread to other organs and even to the bones.


Mr Neil Haldar tells us a little bit about prostate cancer and if it can be prevented.

Prostate cancer cannot be prevented, however, there are some things that can be done to reduce the risk of developing it, such as modifying your diet. Reducing your intake of processed red meat and increasing your intake of fruit, vegetables, nuts and berries can possibly help to lower your risk. There’s some evidence that red meat is carcinogenic, which means that it can switch on cancer-causing genes, so eating less of it could possibly reduce your chances of prostate cancer.


There is also some evidence that foods containing lycopene (tomatoes) and selenium (found in vegetables, fish, shellfish, Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ, etc.) can help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.


There is also evidence that being overweight increases the risk of cancer, so regular exercise along with a healthy diet can help lower your chances of cancer.


How can I get tested for prostate cancer?

If you believe that you could be at risk of prostate cancer, ask your GP for a blood test and a digital rectal exam. A special blood test called a PSA test can check for the presence of prostate cancer. This test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. The higher the level of PSA in the blood, the greater your risk of cancer. High levels will lead to further investigations, as it could be indicative of prostate cancer or a noncancerous condition such as prostatitis.


The digital rectal exam simply requires your doctor to insert a gloved finger into your rectum. It can be slightly uncomfortable, but not painful and only takes a few minutes.


What symptoms should prompt a check-up?

Prostate cancer may not have any symptoms at all, however common signs include:

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • A slow urine stream
  • A frequent need to urinate
  • A sense of urgency to urinate

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit your GP. However, many of these symptoms can also be caused by benign prostate enlargement.


Is it a good idea to have regular PSA tests?

There’s no current evidence that routine screening saves lives, but if your test results are abnormal, your GP may wish to have it repeated.


It is important that if you have symptoms to discuss them with your GP. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, it’s very important to take a test. A strong family history of cancer is estimated to increase the risk of prostate cancer by anything from three to seven-fold. Under the NHS, you are entitled to a PSA blood test if you have concerns.


If you are concerned about the health of your prostate and prostate cancer is something that runs in your family, then schedule an appointment with Mr Neil Haldar today.

By Mr Neil Haldar

Mr Neil Haldar is a leading consultant urological surgeon based in Buckinghamshire. After graduating from King's College Medical School in 1992 Mr Haldar went on to join the Oxford Junior Surgical training program. From there Mr Haldar was awarded by the Royal College of Surgeons the Allinson Foundation Research Fellowship in which he was able to undertake his Master's degree at the Nuffield Department of Surgery in Oxford. Once he completed his specialty urological training, Mr Haldar became the Clinical Lead in laparoscopic urology at the Buckinghamshire NHS Trust. 

Mr Haldar is well published in most aspects of urology, with a current focus on researching Enhanced Recovery Surgery. Mr Haldar's main clinical specialties include bladder, prostate and kidney cancer. He is also an expert in minimal access surgery and in 2008 was one of the first UK surgeons to perform a single incision transperitoneal and extraperitoneal laproscopic nephrectomy.

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