Prostate cancer is characterised by an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate gland – a walnut-sized gland in men that sits just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. Symptoms can take years to show up so people can live with it for many years without realising. In fact, “prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra),” explains the NHS.
When this happens, urinary problems usually become the first casualty.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, blood in the urine, medically known as hematuria, is a telltale sign.
Other signs include:
- Frequent urinating
- Trouble urinating, pain, burning, or weak urine flow
- Painful ejaculation
- Pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Bone pain.
More often than not, however, urinary problems are the result of an enlarged prostate.
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“When treatment is necessary, the aim is to cure or control the disease so it affects everyday life as little as possible and does not shorten life expectancy,” it adds.
Am I at risk?
It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.
There are a number of factors that increase your risk, such as age, genetics and lifestyle.
It is worth noting having a risk factor doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop prostate cancer.
According to Cancer Research UK, prostate cancer is more common in older men – prostate cancer is most common in men aged 75 to 79 years.
“Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who has had prostate cancer,” says the charity.
Some inherited genes can increase your risk of prostate cancer – these inherited genes are rare and account for only a small number of prostate cancers, it adds.
Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).
Obese means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher and being overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30.
BMI is a measure that adults and children can use to see if they are a healthy weight for their height.
There is also some evidence that being active might help to lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.