Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer among men, with more than 47,000 diagnosed with the disease every year.
One man dies from the illness every 45 minutes and as many as one in eight men will get prostate cancer during their lifetime, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
Who is at risk?
Prostate cancer mainly affects men aged 50 and over, with the average age of diagnosis between 65 and 69. Those under 50 are at a very low risk. While prostate cancer doesn’t affect some men, it is extremely common.
The NHS notes the following as factors which can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer:
- You have a family history of prostate cancer
- You are of black ethnic origin
- You are overweight or obese
- Your diet is high in calcium
Symptoms to look out for
Early prostate cancer often doesn’t cause any symptoms, meaning it is important to know about your level of risk.
Symptoms aren’t usually experienced until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra, with noticeable problems including:
- Needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to urinate
- Straining or taking a long time while urinating
- Weak flow
- Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- Blood in urine or blood in semen
While these symptoms can be an indication of prostate cancer, it may not always be the case so it is important to visit your GP to discuss testing.
The PSA Test
The PSA Test is a blood test which can help to detect prostate cancer.
The test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood – a protein made only by the prostate gland – and can be carried out at your GP surgery.
It is normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, but the amount is dependent on your age and the health of your prostate.
A raised PSA may indicate a problem with your prostate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean cancer.
In the UK, there is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer, as the PSA test is not always accurate.
Men aged over 50 can have a PSA test after discussing it with their GP first, but your doctor may not recommend it if you don’t have any symptoms.
Other tests performed by GPs to find out if you have a prostate problem include:
- A urine test to rule out a urine infection
- A digital rectal examination (DRE)
The NHS recommend discussing these with your GP beforehand to talk through the advantages and disadvantages.