Prostate cancer

Updated 21 October 2013

Prostate cancer basics

The early detection of prostate cancer greatly improves the chances of effective treatment.

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The early detection of prostate cancer greatly improves the chances of effective treatment.

Prostate gland

The prostate gland is a small organ found only in men. The prostate produces a white fluid (semen) that carries and nourishes the sperm.

Prostate cancer


Prostate cancer develops in the prostate gland and eventually the cancer cells may spread from the gland to other parts of the body, especially the bone.

The importance of early detection


The early detection of prostate cancer greatly improves the chances of effective treatment. If left untreated, the cancerous cells in the prostate can spread to other parts of the body.

Most cases of early prostate cancer cause no symptoms, but can be detected by a blood test.The blood test measures the levels of PSA (a protein which is made by prostate cells). PSA levels estimate the likelihood of having prostate cancer. Men with high levels are advised to have a biopsy (a sample of tissue from the gland) to check for the presence of cancerous cells.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

Symptoms which should be checked by a doctor include one or more of the following:

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Difficulty in starting and stopping the urinary stream
  • A frequent need to urinate, especially at night

These symptoms are usually caused by the tumour pressing on the urethra and affecting or blocking the flow of urine. More on symptoms

Reducing the risk of prostate cancer

Because the exact cause of prostate cancer is not known, it is not possible to eliminate most causes of the disease.

The following guidelines can decrease your risk:

  • Annual screening after the age of 50
  • Family history of the disease – regular screening after the age of 40
  • Ask your clinician about the PSA test

 

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