Prostate cancer: Know the Facts

Prostate cancer: Know the Facts!

Every year, 35,000 men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer in men over the age of 55 years and an estimated 1 in 14 men will develop the condition. A certain type of prostate cancer, known as hereditary prostate cancer, runs in families and can affect men at a much younger age.

Prostate cancer occurs when normal, healthy cells, which are regulated in the body, begin to reproduce uncontrollably in the prostate gland. In many cases, growth is small and the cancer can go undetected for many years because it causes very few symptoms. In some cases however, prostate cancer grown quickly and may spread to other parts of the body such as the lymph nodes or bones.

Who is at risk?
There are a number of risk factors for prostate cancer:

  • Age - Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 65. It is rare in men under the age of 40 years, but more than 1,000 men under the age of 55 years are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in the UK. Up to 43% of these “early-onset” cases of prostate cancer are thought to be caused by inherited forms of the condition.
  • Ethnicity - Afro-Caribbean men have relatively high rates of prostate cancer. The lowest rates are found in Asian men.
  • Family history of prostate cancer - Having a brother or father with prostate cancer increases your risk, compared to men with no family history of the disease. If a close member of your family was diagnosed with prostate cancer under the age of 40, you are at a higher risk of developing the condition.
  • Family history of breast cancer - The risk of prostate cancer increases slightly in men who have a strong family history of female breast cancer and vice versa
  • Diet - A diet high in saturated fats and red meat may lead to an increased risk of developing cancer, including prostate cancer.
  • Vitamin D - there is growing evidence that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a number of diseases including prostate cancer.
What are the symptoms?
There is no single symptom to indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Problems with the prostate are common; they may not necessarily be caused by cancer, and may results in slowly developing symptoms that can easily be confused with “getting older”.

Because the prostate gland surrounds the tube known as the urethra, which passes urine from the bladder to the outside of the body, any prostate disease or growth (benign or malignant) is likely to cause problems with urination.
Common symptoms include the following:

  • Slow or weak flow or urine
  • Urinating more frequently or urgently than usual
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Pain or burning sensation when urinating
  • Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, or pain during ejaculation
  • Constipation, altered bowel habit, or not feeling the bladder is completely empty
Less common symptoms include the following:
  • Unexplained urinary infection or pain in the groin, back or hips
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Impotence

The Hereditary Risk
Whilst rare in younger men, prostate cancer is the most common male cancer and kills one man an hour in the UK. Affecting men mainly over the age of 65, there is research to suggest up to 43% of cases of prostate cancer are hereditary. Men with a father, brother or any other blood relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer are two times more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men with no affected relatives. The younger the relative is, the higher the risk is of developing the disease.

Rebecca Porta, Chief Executive of Orchid says: “We all have a role to play in sharing information about our health with family members. For example, most of us accept that mothers will openly discuss a history of breast cancer with their daughters to encourage them to check their breasts on a regular basis. We want men to do the same. Male cancer awareness is a significant problem in the UK today. But thousands of men could be helped every year with just more knowledge and a proactive approach in seeking advice and treatment. We’re calling on all men to share information on their experiences of prostate cancer with their families and to encourage family members to seek advice from their GP if they have any concerns.”

If you know of a family member who has been affected or have any cause for concern see your doctor or download a leaflet on hereditary prostate cancer from the Orchid website.

This is article is kindly donated by Orchid - Fighting Male Cancer

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