What is it?
Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate – a walnut-sized gland surrounding the male urethra just below the bladder – that form a tumour. If left untreated, prostate cancer cells can invade other parts of the body (known as metastasis). Prostate cancer is one of the slower growing cancers and typically affects men over the age of 50. However, it can affect younger men in a form that can be very aggressive.
Prostate Cancer Facts
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in Australian men. As our population ages, the incidence of prostate cancer is on the rise.
- By 2020, it is estimated that over 25,000 men per year will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
- It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men
- In Australia, over 20,000 new cases are diagnosed each year – each day about 32 men learn they have prostate cancer
- One in 9 Australian men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime
- More than 3,300 men will die from prostate cancer each year
- For every 100 men who die of prostate cancer in a metropolitan area of Australia - 121 men will die in rural Australia
- While younger men are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer, they are more likely to die prematurely from it
What are the symptoms?
In the early stages of prostate cancer there may be no symptoms, which is why many cases are not detected until it has metastasized (spread to other tissues). As prostate cancer develops, symptoms can include:
- Need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty in starting or stopping urinating
- Discomfort, pain or blood when urinating
- Pain in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs
- Decrease in libido
- Inability to gain an erection
Men who experience these symptoms should see their doctor immediately. Keep in mind these symptoms are often due to causes other than cancer.
Researchers are continuing to learn about prostate cancer risk factors and the cause of the disease is still unknown, however there are some risk factors that increase your chance of developing prostate cancer:
- Being over 50, with older men more likely to be diagnosed
- A family history of prostate cancer
- African-American men more likely to be diagnosed than Caucasian men, and it is less common in Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander and Native American men
- Men with high levels of testosterone have increased risk
- Lifestyle factors such as a high fat, low fibre diet and obesity
While you can’t do anything to change the risk factors such as being male, getting older or your family history, you can lower your risk by:
- Getting a check up if there is a family history of prostate cancer from age 40
- From age 50 onwards a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test should form part of a general check
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle
Today Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) researchers are…
The PA Hospital Campus is home to the multidisciplinary Australian Prostate Cancer Research Centre (APCRC-Q), one of only two centres dedicated to prostate cancer research in the Southern Hemisphere. The APCRC-Q established the only Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) isolation facility in Australasia allowing a non invasive “liquid biopsy” from blood to aid in developing personalised targeted treatment strategies. Other research includes:
- Identifying whether a patients’ condition is slow or fast spreading to determine the appropriate level of treatment – thereby reducing anxiety, unnecessary treatments and associated side effects
- Identifying molecules that can be used as an indicator for prostate cancer with the aim to develop personalised effective cancer treatments and improved clinical diagnosis and treatment monitoring
- Applying the understanding of the genetic make-up and hormonal composition to develop innovative drugs and therapies to treat and cure prostate cancer
- APCRC–Q’s Multidisciplinary Team for Advanced Prostate Cancer Clinical Trials Unit is a key component of the Centre’s research. The Unit integrates the expertise of urology, medical oncology, radiation oncology, and endocrinology for the treatment of prostate cancer and is a vital link between laboratory research and clinical trials and helps accelerate the discoveries that will ultimately underpin improvements in clinical outcomes for prostate cancer patients across Australia
Better Health Channel http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia http://www.prostate.org.au
Mayo Clinic http://www.mayoclinic.com
Cancer Council http://www.cancercouncil.com.au
Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guideline only. The sources used are believed to be reliable and in no way replace consultation with a Health Professional.