Prostate Cancer

Prostate Cancer

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the penis and the bladder, just in front of the rectum. Its main function is to secrete fluid that nourishes and protects sperm, It’s then expelled with sperm during ejaculation as semen.
 
It’s natural for the prostate to get larger as men age but this increase in size also increases you’re the chance of developing prostate cancer.
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What do I look out for?

When cancer in the prostate develops, men may not always get symptoms which can make it harder to spot. If you’re concerned but do not have symptoms, express your concerns with your GP who can run a simple blood test to detect your PSA score.

What’s a PSA score?

PSA stands for Prostate- Specific Antigen; this is a protein that’s produced by cells within the prostate gland. When you have a PSA test it will measure the protein ranging from 1ng/ml to hundreds of ng/ml.
As you get older the PSA level will rise slightly, but a high increase may be a sign of prostate cancer. However, if you get a high PSA score it can also relate to other conditions such as an enlarged prostate, prostatitis or a urinary infection.

Why is there no annual screening?

Many PSA tests have led to the diagnosis of prostate cancer but there are still well-known issues surrounding the test about its accuracy.
 
Although there’s no annual screening programme in the U.K, there’s a scheme called the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme (PCRMP)This scheme gives men access to quality information about PSA tests and can have a free test with their GP if they express a desire to do so.
 
Men who are in ‘at risk’ groups will be actively encouraged by their GP to have a PSA test.

Active Surveillance

Active surveillance, although similar to watchful waiting has different characteristics. Unlike watchful waiting, active surveillance requires you to have regular PSA tests and often biopsies to ensure the cancer is not progressing. It’s a way of monitoring prostate cancer without having it treated straight-away. One in three men that go under active surveillance will need treatment later in life, unlike watchful waiting, active surveillance aims to cure cancer rather than control it.

At risk groups?

Any man can develop prostate cancer and in recent years there has been an increase in men diagnosed worldwide. The survival rate for prostate cancer is also increasing; this could be due to more testing and awareness of the disease.

Unfortunately, with prostate cancer, there hasn’t been much research to support any preventative measures to avoid developing it, but awareness is vital to help spot any signs and symptoms.

Men don’t always get signs and symptoms when prostate cancer first develops; therefore the key to discovering the disease early is to know if you’re ‘at risk’. If you fall into one of the higher risk groups, it’s recommended to express this concern with your doctor to arrange an early PSA test; this will allow you to get tested before any symptoms arise to avoid complications.

The causes of prostate cancer is still not known, however there are certain factors that can contribute to a raised risk of developing it:

Age

Age is the most important factor for prostate cancer as many men are diagnosed over the age of 50. Men under the age of 50 can still get prostate cancer, however this is not as common. It’s estimated that around 80% of men in their 80’s will have some degree of prostate cancer.

Ethnicity

Although the reason is still unknown, black men are more likely to develop prostate cancer than any other ethnicity. It’s estimated that 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their life.

Family History

Having a close family member such as a, brother, father or son diagnosed with prostate cancer puts you almost 3 times more likely to develop prostate cancer, compared to a man who’s had no relatives affected. If the family member affected with prostate cancer was under 60 when they were diagnosed, this further increases your risk of prostate cancer. If a close relative like a mother or a sister has had ovarian or breast cancer, this could also indicate a faulty gene in the family, and raise your risk of prostate cancer.

Genes

Certain genes can increase the risk of prostate cancer; these faulty genes can be passed down from your mother or father. The two genes are BRCA1 and BRCA2, if you’re worried about these ask your doctor to do a simple test to detect if you have these genes.

It’s vital to know if you’re ‘at risk’ and to also inform others, awareness is crucial for an early diagnosis.

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