Explainer – What Are The Symptoms Of Prostate Cancer And How Common Is It?

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer in men (excluding skin cancer).

Over 3,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland each year. The cumulative life time risk (to age 75) of prostate cancer diagnosis is 13.34pc and accounts for 11.0pc of all invasive cancers in Ireland (NCRI, 2016).

From symptoms to treatment, here’s everything you need to know about prostate cancer:

What Is Prostate Cancer?

Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate gland, a small gland located at the base of the bladder.

The main function of the prostate gland, a male reproductive organ, is to secrete prostate fluid.

The prostate gland is about the size of a walnut, but enlarges as men age.

It surrounds the first part of the urethra, the tube which carries urine and semen.

When prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland, this usually occurs in the outer gland cells of the prostate, Cancer Research UK states. These cells are called acinar adenocarcinomas.

Cancer occurs when abnormal cells begin to divide and grow uncontrollably.

According to Cancer Research UK, the majority of cases of prostate cancer grow slowly and do not usually spread to other parts of the body.

When prostate cancer has spread to another part of the body, it becomes known as advanced prostate cancer.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of prostate cancer may include needing to urinate more frequently; having to rush to the toilet; straining to urinate; feeling as though your bladder hasn’t fully emptied while going to the toilet; and blood in urine or semen.

The HSE and NHS add that these symptoms may not necessarily be indicative of prostate cancer.

Older men may experience similar symptoms due to prostate enlargement, which is a non-cancerous condition.

Signs that prostate cancer has spread to other areas of the body may include back, hip or pelvis pain; erectile dysfunction; blood in urine or semen; and unexplained weight loss, Prostate Cancer UK states.

What Are The Causes?

While it’s not known what causes prostate cancer, several factors may increase one’s risk of developing the condition.

These include being over the age of 50; whether one has a brother or father who developed prostate cancer before turning 60; being overweight; and following an unhealthy diet, the NHS states.

How Common Is It?

Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer in men (excluding skin cancer).

Over 3,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland each year.

In the UK, prostate cancer is also the most common form of cancer among men.

Around 47,500 men across the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer on an annual basis.

Approximately 35 per cent of new cases of prostate cancer every year are among men aged 75 and over.

Prostate cancer can affect anyone with a prostate gland, which can include men, transgender and non-binary people.

How Can It Be Treated?

Some diagnosed with prostate cancer will not require any treatment at all.

A person’s treatment may depend on whether their prostate cancer is localised in the prostate gland or has spread to other parts of the body.

A patient with cancer should be cared for by a team of specialists, called a multidisciplinary team.

This team of medical professionals may include oncologists, radiographers and specialist nurses, among others.

Treatment for prostate cancer is undertaken to either cure the disease, or control symptoms so that they do not shorten a patient’s life expectancy.

Some older men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer may be advised to carry out “watchful waiting”, which is when they keep a close eye to see whether or not they develop any progressive cancer symptoms.

They may also be told to do “active surveillance”, which involves undergoing tests such as MRI scans and biopsies while avoiding other treatments deemed “unnecessary”.

Other treatments that patients diagnosed with prostate cancer may undergo include radical prostatectomy, which is the surgical removal of the prostate gland; radiotherapy; hormone therapy; and chemotherapy.

If a person’s prostate cancer has become too advanced, then it may not be able to be cured.

However, treatments such as radiotherapy, hormone treatment and chemotherapy may slow down its progression.

With additional reporting by Independent.ie

(Source – Irish Independent – Health & Wellbeing – Sabrina Barr – 25/10/2021)

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