Prostate cancer: What you need to know

Prostate cancer: What you need to know

In Australia, prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men, with approximately 3500 men dying each year and many thousands more being diagnosed.

But what is prostate cancer, what are its symptoms, and how can you minimise the risk of developing prostate cancer yourself? Read on to find out. 

What is the prostate?

The prostate plays an essential role in the male reproductive system. It is a walnut-sized gland located near your bladder. It sits around the urethra, which is the tube that carries pee from the bladder through the penis. The prostate produces some of the fluids contained in semen, the liquid that transports sperm. This liquid contains special enzymes and hormones that help sperm cells function properly, playing a key role in fertility.

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal cells start to develop in the prostate. These abnormal cells can continue to multiply and can sometimes spread outside the prostate into nearby or even distant parts of the body. While prostate cancer is usually a slow-growing disease, it can also spread quickly and be lethal, meaning that men should always stay up to date with healthcare management.

Symptoms of prostate cancer?

Often, men who have prostate cancer can go years without noticing any signs, which is what makes the disease so dangerous. At later stages of the cancer’s growth, men might experience:

  • Feeling the frequent or sudden need to urinate
  • Finding it difficult to urinate 
  • Discomfort when urinating
  • Finding blood in urine or semen
  • Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips.

It is important to note that experiencing these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you have prostate cancer. However, it is still essential that you see a healthcare professional if these symptoms do occur. 

Diagnosing prostate cancer 

Starting at age 50, all men should discuss undergoing prostate cancer screening with their doctor. If you experience the above symptoms, your doctor will probably suggest you undergo testing straight away. A prostate exam typically involves a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels. You can read our guide to prostate screenings here. While some of the results will be immediate, the screening may take up to a few days for analysis. Your doctor will then recommend the next steps which are appropriate for you.

Treatment of prostate cancer

Once diagnosed with prostate cancer, it is important to take the right steps to manage and treat the disease. What your doctor recommends will depend largely on the stage of the disease, its location, severity and of course, your personal wishes. Some possible options include surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiotherapy, cryotherapy and immunotherapy. Be sure to discuss all possible treatment options with your doctor and make a decision which you are most comfortable with. 

Reducing the risk of prostate cancer

While there are some risk factors that you cannot change, such as genetics, family history and age, there are a few things you can do, which might minimise the risk of developing prostate cancer. In particular, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet and exercising regularly will ensure optimum levels of health. There is some evidence which suggests that both robust weight management, physical activity and regular exercise can be protective factors for cancer. Be sure to discuss a suitable diet and exercise plan with your doctor.

It is essential to become well-informed and educated regarding prostate cancer as well as the options and treatment methods available to you if you do develop the disease. Cancer is a disease which presents significant challenges which no one has to undergo alone. It is important to talk to a trusted healthcare professional before making any decisions about cancer treatment. If you have any questions or would like to book an appointment, please feel free to contact or call Dr Arianayagam’s office on 1300 307 990 and his staff will be able to assist.

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