Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and because it develops slowly there may be no signs you have it in the early stages.
Symptoms often become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine form the bladder to the penis – the urethra.
While most prostate tumours are slow-growing, they can sometimes grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, causing different types of symptoms.
It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, but a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition, according to the NHS.
The health body says these include:
- Age – risk rises as you get older and most cases are diagnosed in men over 50 years of age.
- Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent than in men of Asian descent.
- Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer under the age of 60 seems to increase the risk of you developing it. Research also shows that having a close female relative who developed breast cancer may also increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Obesity – recent research suggests that there may be a link between obesity and prostate cancer.
- Exercise – men who regularly exercise have also been found to be at lower risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Diet – research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer. There is evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.
It adds: “In addition, some research has shown that prostate cancer rates appear to be lower in men who eat foods containing certain nutrients including lycopene, found in cooked tomatoes and other red fruit, and selenium, found in brazil nuts. However, more research is needed.”
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Bupa states there are eight early symptoms to look for and four that indicate the cancer has spread outside your prostate.
As the cancer progresses it can cause the following symptoms:
- Unable to urinate (this is called retention)
- Needing to urinate urgently
- Needing to urinate more often than usual
- Getting up to urinate during the night
- Blood in your urine
- Pain when you urinate
- A weak flow of urine when you go to the toilet
- Trouble starting or stopping when you urinate
But if the cancer has spread outside your prostate, other symptoms can develop:
- Difficulty getting an erection
- Feeling tired and generally unwell
- Pain in your bones or your back
- Losing weight
How is prostate cancer treated?
Treatment for an enlarged prostate will depend on the severity of your symptoms – if your symptoms are mild you may be advised to make lifestyle changes such as drinking less alcohol and exercising regularly.
For many men with prostate cancer, no treatment will be necessary, just active surveillance will be required.
If prostate cancer does progress, and depending on the individual circumstance, a cancer care team will be best to advise what treatment is available.