Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, with over 130 cases diagnosed every day.

More than half of prostate cancer cases in the UK each year are in men aged 70 and over and 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives compared to other men in the UK, who have a 1 in 8 chance of getting prostate cancer. If you are black, you may also be more likely to get prostate cancer if you’re aged 45 or over – and your risk increases as you get older.

The prostate is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra – the tube men urinate and ejaculate through, its main job is to help make semen.

Prostate cancer develops when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way. Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems, although some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread. This needs treatment to stop it spreading outside the prostate.

Enlarge diagram

Prostate cancer does not normally cause symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra. This normally results in problems associated with urination.

Symptoms can include:

  • Needing to urinate more often than usual, including at night
  • Pain in the pelvis, genitals, lower back and buttocks
  • Pain in the perineum (the area between the anus and scrotum), which is often made worse by prolonged sitting
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • A weak flow when you urinate
  • A feeling that you’re not emptying your bladder fully
  • Needing to rush to the toilet – sometimes leaking before you get there
  • Dribbling urine after you finish
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain when ejaculating
  • Blood in your urine or semen
  • Problems getting or keeping an erection
  • For some men the first symptoms of prostate cancer might be new pain in the back, hips or pelvis. This can be caused by cancer that has spread to the bones (advanced prostate cancer)
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Many of the symptoms of prostate cancer are similar to the symptoms of general ageing, but do not dismiss them. If you are worried about your risk or changes in your body or are experiencing any of these symptoms do visit the doctor.

It is not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.

  • Age – risk rises as you get older and most cases are diagnosed in men over 50 years of age.
  • Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent.
  • Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer under the age of 60 seems to increase the risk of you developing it. Research also shows that having a close female relative who developed breast cancer may also increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Obesity – recent research suggests that there may be a link between obesity and prostate cancer.
  • Diet – research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer. There is evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.