Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in males with 2000 new cases diagnosed every year in Western Australia, accounting for 33% of all new cancers.
The prostate gland is a small gland about the size of a walnut, which lies beneath the bladder, in front of the rectum and surrounds the first portion of the urethra. The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system, with its main role is to produce fluid that protects and nourishes sperm. The male hormone testosterone makes the prostate grow in size, therefore as men age the prostate grows.
Prostate cancer occurs when there is abnormal cell growth that develops in the prostate. If these cancer cells continue to grow in an uncontrolled way they may sometimes spread to tissue outside of the prostate or to distant parts of the body.
There are certain risk factors that can be linked to the development of Prostate cancer:
- Age – the risk of developing Prostate cancer increases with age
- Family history – if you have a first-degree male relative with prostate cancer you have higher risk compared to a man with no family history.
- Obesity and dietary excesses – there is some evidence that a high intake of processed meat, or food high in fat can increase prostate cancer risk.
- Ethnicity – African Americans have a greater risk.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
In the early stages of prostate cancer there may be no symptoms.
In more advanced stages symptoms may include:
- Frequency - the need to urinate a short time after you have been.
- Hesitancy – difficulty in beginning urination
- Weak stream – weak urinary stream or flow
- Discomfort with urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
Diagnosing prostate cancer
A variety of assessments and tests are required to diagnose prostate cancer including:
- Blood test – Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) measures the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood. A high PSA level doesn’t always mean cancer, other prostate diseases can cause rises in PSA levels.
- Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) – a physical examination to assess the size and shape of the prostate.
- Prostate biopsy
If the initial screening tests suggest there may be an abnormality, you may be sent for a biopsy The Urologist will obtain small tissue samples from the prostate to be assessed by a pathologist to determine if the cells are cancerous or benign (non-cancerous).
Your urologist will discuss with you how the Prostate biopsies will be taken.
Prostate cancer treatment options are determined by the stage and grade of the cancer.
For further information on prostate cancer please follow this link www.prostate.org.au
Your treating health care professional will provide you with further information based on your individual situation.