What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland, that only men have.
It sits around the urethra – the tube a bloke pees and ejaculates from – between the penis and the bladder.
The main point of the prostate is to produce the fluid which mixes with sperm to create semen – making it pretty vital for reproduction.
But, like all organs in the body, it can be invaded by cancer – when cells in the gland start to grow uncontrollably.
One in eight British men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Many will live long lives and not experience too many nasty symptoms.
But in others, their cancer will spread, which is when the disease can turn deadly.
Prostate cancer currently kills 10,900 men a year, but Prostate Cancer UK warns that this number could surge to 15,000-a-year by 2026.
Worryingly the majority of men don’t know anything about the disease and, of those that do have a shred of a clue, 60 percent aren’t confident naming the signs and symptoms, according to a male cancer charity, Orchid.
A survey by the charity revealed men over 45 knew the least about the killer disease and more than half of black African and Caribbean men did not know their ethnicity increased their risk.
Rebecca Porta, Orchid chief executive said: “Too many men are not seeking help and advice early enough.
“If we can tackle this from both sides, by getting many more men and GPs to talk about prostate cancer risk, we can help to improve outcomes in the longer term – both for patients and the health service.”
In April 2018, Theresa May set out plans to recruit 40,000 men into research studies to find new treatments and early diagnoses.
The clinical studies will target high-risk men over 50, those with a family history of the disease, black men, and the overweight.
What are the symptoms every man needs to know?
In most cases, prostate cancer doesn’t have any symptoms until the growth is big enough to put pressure on the urethra – that tube you pee through.
- Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to pee
- Weak flow
- Straining and taking a long time while peeing
- Feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied fully
Many men’s prostates get larger as they age because of the non-cancerous conditions, prostate enlargement, and benign prostatic hyperplasia.
In fact, these two conditions are more common than prostate cancer – but that doesn’t mean the symptoms should be ignored.
The signs that cancer has SPREAD include bone, back, or testicular pain, loss of appetite, and unexplained weight loss.
What causes prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is very common, and the causes are largely unknown.
Most cases occur in men aged 50 or over, while prostate cancer is more common in men of African or Caribbean descent, and less common in Asian guys.
There’s also a familial link, so having a dad or brother who had prostate cancer increases your risk.
Recent research suggests obesity increases your risk of prostate cancer while exercising regularly lowers it.
A high-calcium diet is also thought to increase your risk while eating cooked tomatoes and Brazil nuts could lower it, but more research is needed into the effect of diet.
And research conducted in Australia suggests drinking just two pints of beer a day increases man’s risk by a QUARTER.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Assuming prostate cancer is caught in its early stages, treatment is not normally immediately necessary.
In these cases, doctors have a policy of “watchful waiting”.
Treatment includes surgically removing the prostate, radiotherapy, and hormone therapy.
One man was cured after being given testosterone in an experimental trial designed to shock tumours to death.
While research suggests antidepressants stop prostate cancer from spreading to the bones in 90 percent of cases.
Nearly all prostate cancer treatments come with the unwanted side effects of erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which is why many men choose to delay treatment.
The only exception is non-surgical laser treatment, which doesn’t cause impotence – but is still in its trial stages.
If the cancer has already spread, it cannot be treated, and medical help is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.