The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis that is only found in men. It is located between the penis and the bladder and surrounds the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis).
How common is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in Northern Ireland (excluding non melanoma skin cancer). Around 600 men in Northern Ireland are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
What causes prostate cancer?
What causes the cells in the prostate to become cancerous is unknown. However, there are a number of known risk factors for developing prostate cancer, including:
- age – 70 per cent of all prostate cancer cases occur in men over the age of 65
- ethnic group - prostate cancer is more common amongst men of Afro-Caribbean and African descent
- family history
- a diet high in dairy products and red meat has been linked to an increased risk
Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer
Prostate cancer does not normally cause any symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra. This normally results in problems associated with urination (passing urine).
Symptoms can include:
- having a sudden need to urinate
- having pain during urination
- frequent urination, especially during the night
- the flow of your urine is weak and irregular
- having problems beginning urination
- feeling that your bladder is not empty after urination
- blood in your urine
Having the above symptoms does not mean you have prostate cancer. Many men's prostates get larger as they get older due to a non-cancerous (benign) condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Symptoms that the cancer is progressing to a potentially more serious stage include:
- a loss of appetite
- weight loss
- constant pain
If you do have any of the symptoms listed above, you should contact your GP.
There are several factors that will be taken into account when deciding on treatment for prostate cancer. They include
- your age
- the likely progression of your cancer
- the stage of your cancer
- the possible side effects of treatment
Treatment options for prostate cancer include:
- watchful waiting – if the cancer is in its early stages, and is causing no symptoms, you may decide to delay any treatment and wait to see if any symptoms of progressive cancer develop
- active surveillance – regular and biopsies to closely monitor the progression of the cancer
- radical prostatectomy – removal of the prostate gland
- hormone therapy
- Treatment options for prostate cancer - Northern Ireland Cancer Network website