Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer

1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer. It is one of the most common types of cancer in the UK.

It usually develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. The symptoms will not usually appear until the prostate is large enough the affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis. It is roughly the size of a walnut but grows bigger as you get older. It is located between the penis and the bladder. The prostate is part of the male reproductive system and helps to make semen.

Who is at risk of prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer usually affects men over the age of 50 and risk increases with age. Black men are also at higher risk of suffering from prostate cancer, as well as men with family histories of it.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

  • An increased need to pee
  • Straining while you pee
  • A feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied

Experiencing these symptoms may not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer, but they should not be ignored.

You should visit your GP if you notice any of the above.

Your GP appointment

Before your appointment

In order to get the most out of your appointment, you should come prepared with the following information:

  • Write down your symptoms including when they started, when they happen and how often you have them.
  • Write down anything that makes them worse or better.
  • Any family history of cancer

During your appointment

Your doctor will start by asking you questions relating to your symptoms and medical history. They may also check your heart rate and temperature.

PSA Blood test

Your GP might carry out a PSA blood test on you. PSA is a protein made by both normal and cancerous prostate cells. It’s normal for all men to have some PSA in their blood. A high level of PSA can be a sign of cancer, but it can also be because of other conditions that aren’t cancer, such as infection.

A PSA test on its own doesn’t normally diagnose prostate cancer. Your GP will discuss the possible benefits and risks of having a PSA test with you.

Examination of your prostate gland

Your GP may also conduct a prostate examination to check for any lumps. You may ask for a chaperone to be present for this. For the exam, your doctor puts a gloved finger into your back passage (rectum) to check for abnormal signs. It may feel a bit uncomfortable but it will not take long.

After your appointment

Depending on your symptoms and the results of your PSA test and prostate examination, your doctor may then refer you to a specialist.