Prostate cancer at a glance
|Who’s at risk?
• Prostate cancer is rare in men under 50. Risk increases with age.
• Only around 5-10 percent of prostate cancers are thought to have a genetic link. Recently, though, several genes have been discovered which appear to increase the likelihood of a genetic link.
• Men with Afro-Caribbean and African ethnic origin seem to have a higher risk than other ethnic groups. Asian men have lower rates.
• It’s more common in countries with a Western lifestyle.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK and is often asymptomatic. The majority of prostatic symptoms are due to benign disease.
Symptoms may include:
• Difficulty in passing urine
• Passing urine more frequently, especially at night
• A feeling of not completely emptying your bladder
• Pain when passing urine
• Blood in your urine
PSA (prostatic specific antigen) is a protein produced by the prostate gland. PSA testing remains a complex issue for both patients and GPs as it is, in fact, a very poor diagnostic test; a high PSA does not equate to prostate cancer and a ‘normal’ PSA does not exclude the possibility of having a significant prostate cancer. It could, however, be indicative of a problem, which could trigger the need for further test, i.e. a biopsy. Though not a reliable indicator, it is useful.
Treatment options for early prostate cancer include:
• Active surveillance or monitoring.
• Watchful waiting, based on the premise that many patients are elderly, with a relatively short life expectancy. Their prostate cancer is likely to progress very slowly, may not cause symptoms and will not cause death.
• Surgery, with the aim of removing all of the prostate and cancer.
• Radiotherapy, external or internal (brachytherapy). Hormone treatment may also be given before radiotherapy to help shrink the prostate .
• Hormone therapy is the main form of treatment for locally advanced and late stage prostate cancer, where the aim is to control the spread of the cancer, rather than cure it. It’s either used on its own or in combination with other treatment.
• Chemotherapy (treatment with anti-cancer drugs) is used for late stage prostate cancer and when it can no longer be controlled by hormone treatments.
|The Royal Marsden (in Sutton, Surrey and Chelsea) offers a rapid and comprehensive diagnosis service for the majority of cancer types, including prostate. Usually, patients will receive a definitive diagnosis in one visit.
For more information, visit their website: www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk, or call 0800 180 8182.