Symptoms

Contrary to belief, prostate cancer is not just an “old man’s” disease. For example, 20% of men diagnosed with the disease are less than 65 years old. Prostate cancer is often slow growing with no symptoms initially. As the tumour grows, it can cause a partial blockage to the flow of urine and cause one or more of the following.

  • Reduced urine flow: The flow is weaker and it takes longer to empty your bladder.
  • Hesitancy: You may need to wait at the toilet for a while before urine flows.
  • Leaking: You may experience a small leak after you have finished.
  • Frequency: You may pass urine more frequently, often getting up in the night to go to the toilet
  • Urgency: You may need to get to the toilet quickly.
  • Poor Emptying: You may have a feeling of not quite emptying your bladder.

Note: Most men who develop the above symptoms do not have prostate cancer but have a benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate

If the prostate cancer spreads outside the local area into the lower spine, pelvis and hips the affected bones can become very painful. The resulting lower back pain is sometimes the first symptom to develop in some men.

Because the prostate is a male sex gland some studies have indicated that changes in sexual function could be possible indicators of a prostate problem, such as:

  • Lack of libido/sex drive
  • Erectile dysfunction (poor erection)

Other symptoms such as pain at the base of the penis or passing blood occasionally occur (These do not occur with benign prostate enlargement)

Risks

Genetic Factors

If your father or brother had/has prostate cancer then all brothers are at risk. Also, if your sister had/has a certain type of breast cancer then her brothers could be at risk of developing prostate cancer.

If you are an African Caribbean you are also more at risk.

Other Risk Factors

  • Age: Most cases are diagnosed in older men
  • Diet: A diet high in fats and low in fruit and vegetables may increase the risk
  • Damage: Physical damage to the prostate gland through, for example, invasive procedures or objects inserted in the rectum
  • Exposure: Exposure to the metal cadmium may also be a risk