We’re highlighting men’s health during Movember – here’s a fact sheet on prostate cancer:
Some stats – the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, with over 3,500 deaths in Australia each year (more than women who die from breast cancer). 1 in 7 men at age 75 get it, and by age 85 it is 1 in 5 men with prostate cancer. 5 year survival from time of diagnosis is good, around 95%.
Risks – prostate cancer is a slow growing disease, and many men live with it for years before detection. Many die with the disease, but not from it. That said, aggressive forms can spread quickly so early detection is still important. Symptoms are usually a change in water works, pain or blood in the urine, but often there may be no symptoms. Age and family history are the main risk factors, although there is emerging evidence of high meat or high fat diets being contributing factors as well.
Detection – a blood test to look for a specific protein (Prostate Specific Antigen), a prostate examination and a biopsy if required. The blood test is not terribly accurate as it doesn’t always pick up prostate cancer (false negative result) and only 1 in 3 raised blood test levels actually have prostate cancer (false positive results). Screening involves a discussion with your GP if you’re over 50 (or over 40 with a family history).
Treatment – because prostate cancer is slow growing, all that may be required if the cancer is small and hasn’t spread, is surveillance. Otherwise surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy may be offered, with potential side effects being impotence and incontinence.