In 2015, around 47,200 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK.
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis, found only in men. It is about the size of a satsuma, it's located between the penis and the bladder, and surrounds the urethra. In adults, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK. In men, it is the most common cancer in the UK.
The number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has been increasing over the last 10 years. This might be because more men are having PSA tests and the population is getting older.
Symptoms do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis. When this happens, you may notice things like:
- an increased need to pee
- straining while you pee
- a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied.
These symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean you have prostate cancer. It's more likely they're caused by something else, such as prostate enlargement.
The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. However, certain things can increase your risk of developing the condition. The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older.
Prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, and less common in Asian men. Men whose father or brother have been affected by prostate cancer are at slightly increased risk themselves.
There is no single test for prostate cancer. All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks. The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer are: blood tests; a physical examination of your prostate; an MRI scan; a biopsy. The blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer.
Men are not routinely offered PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable. Men over 50 can ask for a PSA test from their GP.
If you have a raised PSA level, you may be offered an MRI scan of the prostate to help doctors decide if you need further tests and treatment.
For many men with prostate cancer, treatment is not immediately necessary. If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, your doctor may suggest either "watchful waiting" or "active surveillance". The best option depends on your age and overall health. Both options involve carefully monitoring your condition. For patients who have treatment many will have surgery to remove the prostate.
Radiotherapy may also be used alongside hormone therapy. Some cases are only diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer has spread. If the cancer spreads to other parts of the body and can't be cured, then treatment is focused on prolonging life and relieving symptoms.
Newer treatments, such as high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and cryotherapy may also be offered.