Blue September – Increasing awareness of prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand men and the second most common cancer in men worldwide1,2. It occurs more commonly in men over the age of 50 years, although causes more problems if it occurs at a younger age. If caught early, prostate cancer can be well managed and is usually cured2.

What is the prostate and what does it do?

Only found in men; the prostate is a small, walnut-sized gland located just below the bladder. It produces one of the components of semen.

What is a PSA blood test?

PSA = prostate specific antigen which is measured by a blood test. The prostate gland makes PSA. Higher than normal levels of PSA can be caused by: an infection of the prostate gland; an enlarged prostate (not cancer) or by prostate cancer. It is used as a screening tool.

What are the risk factors for prostate cancer?

Family history plays a role, so if you had a brother, father or close family member that has had prostate cancer, you are at greater risk.

There’s no absolute way to prevent prostate cancer, however eating healthy, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy weight and not smoking may help2.

What are the signs and symptoms of prostate problems?

Early on in prostate cancer there are no symptoms, which is why it is important to get your PSA level checked by your doctor. Once the cancer grows, the following problems may occur:

-Going to the toilet more often

-Poor urine follow

-Trouble starting or stopping peeing

-Getting up often in the night to pee

However, these symptoms can also be a result of an enlarged prostate which is often not cancerous3. Your doctor will confirm a diagnosis.

Treatment

Prostate cancer can be treated. Finding it early and getting treatment can save lives, however not all prostate cancer needs to be treated3. The choice of treatment depends on informed patient decisions after they have been given information about the potential advantages and disadvantages associated with each approach, along with personal preferences1.

References

  1. UpToDate
  2. Health Navigator. https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/health-a-z/p/prostate-cancer/
  3. Ministry of Health. Accessed 14/09/2017 from http://www.health.govt.nz/your-health/conditions-and-treatments/diseases-and-illnesses/prostate-cancer