YOUR HEALTH FIRST

Men’s Health Week: Prostate Cancer Awareness

The Facts

  • In Ireland, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, after skin cancer
  • Each year over 3,400 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland
  • 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime
  • Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumour
  • If detected early, there is a 98% chance of survival beyond 5 years
  • If detected late, there is a 26% chance of survival beyond 5 years

Risk Factors

1. Age

Your risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, but that doesn’t mean it is a disease that only affects the elderly. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer are over 50

2. Family history

Men whose brother or father developed prostate cancer at a young age are 2.5 times more likely to get prostate cancer and should start the conversation about getting PSA tested at 45

3. Race

African-American and African-Caribbean men are more at risk than other ethnic groups and should also start getting checked from the age of 45

4. Diet

Men who eat a lot of red meat and high-fat dairy products and not enough green vegetables may have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer.

A healthy diet can reduce your risk of cancer. Find out what makes a healthy diet and what foods to avoid

5. Physical activity

This can help reduce your risk of cancer. Find out how

6. Be a healthy weight

This is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cancer. Find out more about body weight and cancer

PSA Test: What is it?

  • A simple, routine blood test used to determine the measurement of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) concentration in the blood
  • PSA is made by normal prostate cells as well as by prostate cancer cells
  • If your PSA level is higher than normal, it can sometimes be a sign of prostate cancer, but it can often be a sign of a less serious condition like an enlarged or inflamed prostate
  • PSA testing is the primary method of testing for prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor about whether testing is right for you
  • After having the first test done some men, in particular those who are in a high-risk group, may decide to have this test repeated regularly
  • How often this test needs to be repeated can be discussed with your doctor, as the frequency may be influenced by the PSA level, your age and the degree of risk

In order to make the most from your doctor's visit it can help to prepare for your appointment, The Irish Cancer Society have made a checklist which may help you to discuss your concerns or symptoms with the doctor. 

For more information about PSA testing you can read the booklet on the Irish Cancer Society's website.

Prostate Screening

Checking for prostate cancer when you have no symptoms is called prostate screening.

If you choose to go for prostate screening your doctor will carry out a physical examination and will also take a blood test (PSA test) from you.

Unfortunately, Ireland does not offer a routine national prostate screening programme, so deciding to have prostate cancer screening done is a personal decision and should be based upon having a full discussion with your doctor beforehand.

This way you will have a greater understanding of what the test involves, and an understanding that it could lead you to having to make further important decisions which might affect your life now and in the future.

Signs & Symptoms

Not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.

Some men, however, will experience changes in urinary or sexual function that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
  • Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Difficulty in having an erection
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
  • Feeling of not emptying your bladder fully

These symptoms may be caused by prostate cancer or they may be caused by other conditions, such as a harmless (benign) growth of the prostate gland.

Important to note:

  • Early prostate cancer may not cause urinary symptoms, or any symptoms at all
  • Do not assume that because you have none of the above urinary symptoms that you do not have prostate cancer, visit your doctor
  • Prostate cancer often grows slowly to start with and may never cause any problems, but some men have prostate cancer that is more likely to spread
  • These prostate cancer cells, if left untreated, may spread from the prostate and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours in a process known as metastasis

Anyone who is concerned about prostate cancer or cancer in general can speak with a specialist nurse in confidence by calling the Cancer Nurseline Freephone 1800 200 700, open Monday to Friday, 10am – 4pm.

If you wish to speak with a specialist nurse, you can also contact one in the following ways: