Health Hub

Prostate Cancer

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Prostate Cancer

In this Health Hub article, we explore the causes, symptoms and treatments of prostate cancer.

What is the Prostate?

The prostate is a gland found only in men. In younger men it’s about the size of a walnut- in older men it may be slightly larger. The prostate is found below the bladder and it’s function is to produce seminal fluid and a protein called PSA (prostate specific antigen)

What is Prostate Cancer?

It is a slow growing cancer so you may not know you have it for years. Prostate cancer happens when a mass of cells in the prostate grow to form a tumour.

These cells may be cancerous and affect how the prostate works- cancerous cells and benign cells may both cause similar symptoms.

Facts & Figures

  • Second most common cancer in Ireland
  • 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer
  • Figures have doubled from 1995-2007
  • It is the cancer with one of the best survival rates – early detection gives a survival rate as high as 98% while later detection sees this dropping to 26%

What Causes Prostate Cancer?

It is not known what causes prostate cancer, however you may be at increased risk if;

  • Over 50
  • Family history of prostate cancer
  • Black Caribbean and black African men have an increased risk than in white or Asian men
  • Diet-high in red meat and fat
  • BMI 30 and above

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Night-time urination
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • A sense of not being able to fully empty the bladder

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms you should visit your GP who will carry out further tests

What Are The Stages of Prostate Cancer?

  • Stage I/II (Localised) – cancer is only in the prostate gland
  • Stage III (Locally advanced) – disease that has started to spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate and to the seminal vesicles
  • Stage IV (Advanced)– the cancer has spread further such as the bladder, rectum, lymph nodes etc

What Are The Stages of Prostate Cancer?

  • If cancer is detected at an early stage, an ‘active surveillance’ approach may be taken in older men, the patient goes for monitoring of their condition- as it may be a slow growing cancer and not causing any symptoms
  • The following treatments are available and are usually used in combination to optimise treatment


Advice From The Pharmacist

  • Be aware of side effects and report them to your GP immediately
  • If you are over 50 you can ask your GP for a PSA test
  • There is no way of directly preventing prostate cancer but maintaining a healthy lifestyle and reporting symptoms to your GP as soon as possible will ensure early detection

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