Welcome to our ‘know your prostate’ section. Using the sidebar links to the right you can learn more about the prostate and related items. If we haven’t covered your questions or concerns that you would like answered then please feel free to contact us, we’re always happy to try and help.
The prostate is a ‘male only’ walnut size gland that lies beneath the bladder. It surrounds the urethra (water-pipe) and its main function is to help sperm production.
The 3 main diseases associated with the prostate are
1) benign prostate disease (BPH for short) – non cancerous enlargement of the prostate
2) prostate cancer (commonest cancer diagnosed in men in the UK)
3) prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate
Who Is At Risk?…
In the UK, about 1 in 9 men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Older men, men with a family history of prostate cancer and men of black
African and black Caribbean descent are more at risk.
Age, Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years. If you are under 50 then your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Younger men can be affected, but this is rare.
Family history, You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has been diagnosed with it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer. There might be a higher chance of a man developing prostate cancer if his relative was under 60 when he was diagnosed or he had more than one close relative with prostate cancer. Researchers have found some characteristics in genes that might be passed on through your parents and could increase your risk of developing prostate cancer. Only five to ten per cent of prostate cancers are thought to be strongly linked to genes.
Ethnicity, In the UK, men of black Caribbean or black African descent are three times more likely to develop prostate cancer than white men of the same age. They may also develop prostate cancer at an earlier age than white men. The reasons for this increased risk are not yet clear but may be due to changes in their genes passed down through generations.
Symptoms to look out for include…
• Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
• Difficulty starting to pass urine
• Straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
• A weak flow of urine
• A feeling that your bladder has not emptied properly
• Needing to rush to the toilet – you may occasionally leak urine before you get there
• Dribbling urine
Less common symptoms of a prostate problem include…
• Pain when passing urine
• Pain when ejaculating
• Blood in the urine or semen
• Problems getting or keeping an erection
(more often caused by other health conditions)
Any male with prostate symptoms should initially attend their GP. The GP will examine the prostate (a DRE – digital rectal examination) and after counselling may suggest a prostate blood test, (PSA – prostate specific antigen), that can help in making a diagnosis.
PSA – prostate specific antigen is a protein produced only by the prostate gland. It can be measured via a blood test. The normal level for PSA depends upon your age. The PSA level can be raised due to different disorders of the prostate, including prostate cancer.
If the DRE or PSA is abnormal, your GP will refer you to a specialist (a consultant urologist) for a prostate biopsy.
A prostate biopsy can be performed in two ways. The standard technique is a TRUS biopsy. Between 10 and 12 biopsies are taken from the prostate using ultrasound under local anaesthetic. Some patients may be offered a more advanced procedure, a template biopsy, where up to 40 biopsies can be taken via a general anaesthetic.
Just Been Diagnosed?…
Recently diagnosed with prostate cancer? Men respond in all kinds of ways to being diagnosed with prostate cancer. You may feel shocked, frightened or angry. You may want to find out more about what treatments are available to you.
Sources of information: (Also See Our Useful Weblinks)
1) The Urology specialist Cancer Nurse (at your hospital) or your ‘key worker’ (NHS in Wales)
2) Helplines (Macmillan, Prostate Charity, Etc…)
3) Information booklets (Royal college of Surgeons of England) – Alison Townsend
There are many treatment options for prostate cancer.
Your options will depend on several factors, including;
a) your age
b) your general fitness
c) the extent of your cancer – wether its early or advanced
The possible options include…
• Active surveillance
• Radiotherapy – external beam, brachytherapy
• Surgery to remove the whole prostate gland – a radical prostatectomy
(performed via open surgery, laparoscopically or via a da vinci robot in some centres)
• HIFU – high intensity focused ultrasound
• Hormone therapy – tablets or injections
• Your treatment choices will be discussed by a team of doctors and nurses,
a multi-disciplinary cancer team, prior to your consultation. This team includes,
surgeons, cancer doctors, radiology doctors, a pathologist and specialist and nurses.
Living With Prostate Cancer…
250,000 men are living with prostate cancer in the UK…
Being diagnosed with prostate cancer can affect your everyday life, work and relationships. You may experience side effects of treatment or symptoms of your cancer that can be difficult to cope with or you may be worried about your cancer coming back after treatment. To talk about any concerns you may have, you can call our confidential Helpline and speak to a specialist nurse
Or you can read more about any of the following…
• Sex and prostate cancer >
• Urinary problems and prostate cancer >
• Diet and prostate cancer >
• Pain and advanced prostate cancer >
• Living with hormone therapy >
• Travel and prostate cancer >