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CONDITIONS A-Z

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer typically affects men from 45 years up. It’s the most common type of cancer among males in the UK. Each year around 27000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Prostate Cancer - Overview

Doctors aren’t sure why some men get prostate cancer while others don’t. It’s likely that both genetic and environmental factors play a role.

There are a number of symptoms that can indicate prostate cancer but these symptoms can be similar to other prostate conditions such as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia).

Prostate cancer can be detected using two simple tests. One is to test the levels of PSA (prostate specific antigen) in the blood while the other involves a digital rectal examination. A doctor will suspect a tumour if, when he does a rectal examination, he finds a hard, irregular lump in the prostate or if the whole prostate feels hard and uneven. As with breast cancer, very small tumours may be impossible to feel.

Treatment for prostate cancer will depend on a number of factors including the size and age of the cancer. Some small cancers can be left alone and monitored while others may require surgery, radiotherapy or other treatments.

How common is prostate cancer?

It’s much more common that we used to think. We now know that almost three-quarters of men over the age of 80 have it, but in many of these men the cancer is quiescent and most will die of something else. Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of male cancer death in England and Wales

As with breast cancer in women, it’s important to catch the disease early, especially in men who are at high risk. A family history of prostate cancer, or even breast cancer, would put a man in the high-risk group.

Prostate cancer may be preventable. A study published last year from Finland suggests that taking vitamin E supplements may reduce the chance of developing the disease by about a third and of dying from it by nearly a half. There’s also some evidence that selenium and lycopene (a substance found in tomatoes), high in soy intake and a low-fat diet may help too.



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