The facts about prostate cancer

Written by: Top Doctors®
Edited by: Jay Staniland


Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common form of cancer in the UK, and is the 4th most common cause of cancer death. This means that many people who are diagnosed with prostate cancer go on to live a long time, with 84% of diagnosed patients going on to live for 10 years or more.



What is the prostate gland?


The prostate gland is a gland that only men have, and is usually the size and shape of a walnut. It surrounds the neck of the bladder and is used to create and release a fluid component of semen. The prostate often enlarges as you get older, but this doesn’t usually cause any problems.

There are a number of conditions that can affect the prostate, including enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.


What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?


All of the conditions associated with the prostate gland carry many of the same symptoms.

  • A frequent need to urinate.
  • Difficulty starting to urinate.
  • Having to strain to urinate.
  • Pain during sex or when urinating.

These symptoms can be a sign of a problem with the prostate, as the increased size can cause problems with the flow of urine.

Early detection of prostate cancer can drastically improve the chances of survival. If you are experiencing any of these problems, you should always contact your GP, or make an appointment with a consultant urologist.


Prostate cancer is on the increase


The number of new cases of prostate cancer is gradually increasing, with over 130 cases diagnosed every day, making up 13% of diagnoses of all types of cancer.

4 in 10 of these cases in the UK are diagnosed at a late stage, meaning there is less that can be done to control or remove the cancer. There are 31 deaths attributed to prostate cancer per day. This figure is expected to rise by 12% in the next 20 years, and around 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed in their lifetime.

The good news is that mortality rates from prostate cancer are expected to fall by 16% over the next 20 years as more people become aware of the symptoms, and detection at an early stage increases.


Risk factors


The risk of developing cancer can depend on many things, age, genetics and lifestyle choices are all factors that can have an effect on the chances of developing cancer.

However, there have been no clear links found between preventable risk factors and prostate cancer. Evidence is unclear of links between environmental factors/lifestyle factors and a higher prostate cancer risk. The same can be said about a link between consuming certain foods and a lower prostate risk, as evidence is unclear and is still being studied to understand better.

Although there is little understanding of the causes of prostate cancer, there are certain links that are known to increase the risk of developing the condition.

  • Age: The risk of developing prostate cancer increases as you age, with over 54% of cases of prostate cancer found in men aged 70 and over.
  • Ethnicity: for unknown reasons, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean and African descent, with this ethnicity featuring the highest incidence rate. The least common is in Asian men.
  • Family history: if someone in your family has developed prostate cancer before the age of 60, there is a slightly increased risk of developing it. Some research also suggests that if you have a family member that developed breast cancer, your chances of developing prostate cancer can be slightly increased.
  • Exercise: Men who take part in regular exercise are believed to have a slightly decreased risk.

By Topdoctors

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