Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting Australian men and is also the second-largest cause of cancer-related death in Australian men.
In Queensland alone, around 3,900 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, accounting for nearly one in three of all male cancers – and tragically, around 658 men will die from the disease.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the prostate gland. The gland is only found in males and is about the size of a walnut. It is situated where the bladder joins the urethra.
The risk of prostate cancer rises with age, and occurs mainly in men over 50 years of age. Men with a family history may have an increased risk of developing the disease.
It is important that all Queensland men understand their individual risk of prostate cancer, and their personal options – including the pros and cons of prostate cancer testing options.
Unfortunately there is currently no single, simple test to detect prostate cancer. The test most commonly used to aid early detection of prostate cancer is the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test but this test does not always reliably identify the presence of prostate cancer and is not able to distinguish potentially fatal cancers from benign tumors.
While some studies suggest PSA reduces mortality on a population basis, the test picks up large numbers of cancers that have caused no symptoms or harms in the patient. This is known as over diagnosis, which can lead to unnecessary treatments that have side effects such as sexual impotence, urinary incontinence and bowel problems.
Men with symptoms suggestive of prostate cancer should see their doctor. In most cases the problems are due to benign (non-cancerous) enlargement of the prostate gland, but can also be due to cancer.
- Difficulty or pain in passing urine
- Blood in urine
- Passing urine more frequently than usual, and
- Any of these symptoms combined with pain in the lower back, upper thighs or pelvic region.
While the causes of prostate cancer and how to prevent it remain unknown, healthy lifestyle factors can play a role in helping to reduce your overall cancer risk.
Research shows up to one third of all cancers are preventable through healthy lifestyle adjustments including eating healthy lifestyle weight, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol intake and participating in recommended screening.
Queenslanders with questions about prostate cancer should speak to their GP or can call Cancer Council’s 13 11 20 for more information about prostate cancer risks, diagnosis, and treatment.