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Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that begins in the cells of the prostate – a small walnut-shaped gland found only in men. The cancer does not usually produce any outward signs in the beginning and the symptoms can also be attributed to a less serious condition that afflicts some men as they get older. As the NHS explains, 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).
When this happens, it can cause dysfunctions in your ability to pee.
One telltale sign to watch out for is a weak flow or having to strain to start peeing, says Macmillan.
Other signs to watch out for include:
- Needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
- Feeling like you have not completely emptied your bladder after peeing
- An urgent need to pee
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Rarely, pain when peeing or ejaculating.
It is important to note that these symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer.
“Many men’s prostates get larger as they get older because of a non-cancerous condition called prostate enlargement,” explains the NHS.
Benign prostate enlargement (BPE) is the medical term to describe an enlarged prostate, a condition that can affect how you pee.
As the NHS explains, BPE is common in men aged over 50. It’s not a cancer and it’s not usually a serious threat to health.
Still, as the health body points out, if you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, you should visit a GP.
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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.
However, having a risk factor doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop prostate cancer.
Age is a common risk factor. Prostate cancer is most common in men aged 75 to 79 years, according to Cancer Research UK.
Prostate cancer is also more common in black-African men than white men and it is least common in Asian men, says the charity.
What’s more, 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 health body.
Lifestyle factors can also influence your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).
Underscoring the point, there is some evidence that being active might help to lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.
You should therefore try to keep a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
How is it treated?
“Your treatment depends on a number of factors including how big the cancer is, whether it has spread anywhere else in your body and your general health,” explains Cancer Research UK.
The main treatments are:
- External radiotherapy
- Internal radiotherapy (brachytherapy)
- Hormone therapy
- High frequency ultrasound therapy (HIFU) (as part of a clinical trial)
- Cryotherapy (as part of a clinical trial)
- Chemotherapy in combination with other treatments Symptom control treatment.
“You have one or more of these treatments depending on the stage of your cancer,” adds Cancer Research UK.
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