WHAT IS THE PROSTATE?

The prostate is a small gland that sits below the bladder near the rectum. Only men have it. It surrounds the urethra, the passage in the penis through which urine and semen pass.

The prostate gland is part of the male reproductive system. It produces most of the fluid that makes up semen that enriches sperm. The prostate needs the male hormone testosterone to grow and develop.

The prostate is often described as being the size of a walnut and it is normal for it to grow as men age. Sometimes this can cause problems, such as difficulty urinating. These problems are common in older men and not always symptoms or signs of cancer.

THE MALE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM

  • What is prostate cancer?

    Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men in Australia. Each year, more than 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, including a small number under the age of 50.

    Prostate cancer is unusual because there may not be symptoms. In many men, it may also grow so slowly that it never needs treatment. Some prostate cancer, however, does require treatment and this can cause unwanted side-effects including issues with sexual function.

    Often when people hear the word ‘cancer’, they immediately assume that it is terminal. However, the majority of men with prostate cancer live for many years without any symptoms, and without the cancer spreading or becoming life-threatening. It depends on the aggressiveness of the cancer.

    Being diagnosed with cancer can affect how you think about yourself and your life. You might also be concerned about your long-term outlook and how it will impact your work, family and relationships.

    The Prostate Care Centre can diagnose prostate cancer and support you with information about your diagnosis and treatment.

    Source: Reproduced from pcfa.org.au with minor modifications and with the kind permission of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

  • What are the risk factors?

    Factors that are most strongly linked to an increased chance of developing prostate cancer include:

    Age

    Prostate cancer is an age-dependent disease, which means the chance of developing it increases with age. The risk of getting prostate cancer by the age of 75 is 1 in 7 men. By the age of 85, this increases to 1 in 5.

    Family history

    If you have a first degree male relative with prostate cancer, you have a higher chance of developing it than men with no such history. The risk increases again if more than one male relative has prostate cancer. Risks are also higher for men whose male relatives were diagnosed when young.

    Men over 50 years of age, or 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, should talk to their doctor about testing for prostate cancer using the PSA test and DRE as part of their annual health check-up. Men should make an individual informed decision about testing based on the latest available evidence on the benefits and potential harms of testing and subsequent treatment for prostate cancer.

    Other factors that may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer include:

    Genetics

    Genes are found in every cell of the body. They control the way the cells in the body grow and behave. Every person has a set of many thousands of genes inherited from both parents. Changes to genes can increase the risk of prostate cancer being passed from parent to child. Although prostate cancer can’t be inherited, a man can inherit genes that can increase the risk.

    Diet

    There is some evidence to suggest that eating a lot of processed meat or food that is high in fat can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.

    Lifestyle

    There is evidence to show that environment and lifestyle can affect the risk of developing prostate cancer.

    Source: Reproduced from pcfa.org.au with minor modifications and with the kind permission of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

  • How can I reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer?

    There is no evidence that the following protective factors can stop prostate cancer from developing, but they can improve your overall health and possibly reduce the risk of prostate cancer:

    Diet

    Eat meals that are nutritious. Refer to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. What is good for the heart is good for the prostate.

    Physical activity/exercise

    There is some evidence to show that physical activity and regular exercise can be protective factors for cancer. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. The Exercise Medicine Institute at ECU offers cancer patients individualised exercise programs.

    Source: Reproduced from pcfa.org.au with minor modifications and with the kind permission of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

  • What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

    In the early stages, there may be no symptoms. In the later stages, some symptoms of prostate cancer might include:

    • Feeling the frequent or sudden need to urinate
    • Finding it difficult to urinate.  For example, trouble starting or not being able to urinate when the feeling is there, or poor urine flow.
    • Discomfort when urinating
    • Finding blood in urine or semen
    • Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips.

    These symptoms may not mean you have prostate cancer, but if you experience any of them, go and see your doctor.

    Source: Reproduced from pcfa.org.au with minor modifications and with the kind permission of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Whether it’s for diagnosis or treatment, patients attending the PCC are treated as individuals by a team of specialist doctors and allied health professionals with complimentary skill sets who really do care. It’s a true multidisciplinary approach.

It’s what makes the PCC different.