HMT is offering informative information on prostate cancer for Prostate Awareness Month. We are therefore providing details on the symptoms, tests and treatments available. Please read the article and share with loved ones so they are aware of just how life-changing this cancer can be.

What is Prostate Cancer?

Carcinoma of the prostate, commonly known as prostate cancer, is one of the most common forms of cancer in men in the UK. Those diagnosed with prostate cancer are 50 year old males or older, and there are approximately 40,000 new cases developed each year.

Your prostate is a small gland in the male pelvis that can be found between the penis and bladder, and surround the urethra. It’s function is to assist the production of semen. While most prostate cancers can be slow growing, some can grow at a rapid rate.

Who is Affected by Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer affects only males, and the likelihood of a person developing the cancer will increase with their age. A man is more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer if a first-degree relative – such as a father or brother – have been affected by the cancer. For reasons still unknown, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent. It is, however, less common in men of Asian descent.

What are the Symptoms?

Prostate cancer can develop slowly, so you many not spot any symptoms for many years. Many people often only become aware of the symptoms when their prostate becomes large enough to affect the urethra.

Here are the prostate cancer symptoms to look out for:

• An increased need to urinate

• Straining during urination

• Difficulty when urinating

• A feeling that you’ve not fully-emptied your bladder

• Pain during sexual intercourse

• Blood in urine

• Lower back pain

Never ignore the signs of prostate cancer. Book an appointment with a GP. Do not panic. The symptoms may be a result of another medical condition, such as prostate enlargement.

What Tests are Available?

A GP can perform a number of tests to identify if you have prostate cancer. The most common tests include:

• Blood tests – known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

• A digital rectal examination – a physical examination of the prostate

• A biopsy

A PSA test is believed to be an ineffective way to identify if a person has prostate cancer, but the levels can determine how likely they are to have the condition.

What Treatments are Available?

It is important not to panic if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, as immediate treatment is not always the best option – especially if the cancer is in the early stages and you have no symptoms. Your doctor may therefore opt to “watchfully wait”, and so will monitor your condition. Early diagnosis can result in a cure of prostate cancer, as the prostate can be surgically removed. A patient can also receive radiotherapy and hormone therapy.

Unfortunately, prostate cancer in the later stages, when it has spread to other areas of the body, is incurable. Treatments are available to help prolong a person’s life and relieve their symptoms.

Are There Any Side Effects?

All prostate cancer treatments come with side effects, which can include erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Some men therefore choose to delay the treatments until the cancer is a risk to other areas of the body.

There are, however, modern treatments available that can reduce the risk of a treatment’s side effects, including high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and cryotherapy. Some UK hospitals offer the treatments are an alternative to therapy or surgery but the length of the modern treatments’ effectiveness is yet to be determined.