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What is the prostate?

The prostate is a gland. Only men have a prostate. The prostate is usually the size and shape of a walnut. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube men urinate (pee) and ejaculate through. The prostate’s main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm.

Does prostate cancer have any symptoms?

Most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms. So, even if you don’t have symptoms, if you’re a black man over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer.

Some men with prostate cancer may have difficulty urinating. Men with prostate cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body might have pain in the back, hips or pelvis, problems getting or keeping an erection, blood in the urine, or unexplained weight loss.
These symptoms are usually caused by other things that aren’t prostate cancer. For example, if you notice any changes when you urinate or have trouble controlling your bladder, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate or prostatitis. But it’s still a good idea to talk to your GP so they can find out what’s causing them.

What Age?

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years. If you are under 50, your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Men under 50 can get it, but it isn’t common.
If you’re over 50 and you’re worried about your risk of prostate cancer, you might want to ask your GP about tests for prostate cancer. If you’re over 45 but have a higher risk of prostate cancer – because you have a family history of it or you’re a black man – you might want to talk to your GP too.

Family history

You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has had it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer.
Your chance of getting prostate cancer may be greater if your father or brother was under 60 when he was diagnosed, or if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer.

Your risk of getting prostate cancer is higher if your mother or sister has had breast cancer, particularly if they were diagnosed under the age of 60 and had faults in genes called BRCA1 or BRCA2.

If you have relatives with prostate cancer or breast cancer and are worried about your risk, speak to your GP. Although your risk of prostate cancer may be higher, it doesn’t mean you will get it.

Black men

Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than other men. We don’t know why, but it might be linked to genes. In the UK, about 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.

If you’re a black man and you’re over 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer. You can also contact our Specialist Nurses.

The PSA test

The PSA test is a blood test that can help diagnose prostate problems, including prostate cancer.
Here we explain who can have a PSA test, what will happen if you have a test, and what your PSA results might mean.
There are advantages and disadvantages to having a PSA test. You’ll need to talk to your GP or practice nurse about these before deciding whether to have a test.
We know that some men have trouble getting a PSA test. You can read more about what to do if this happens.

What is the PSA test?

The PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. PSA is
a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in your blood, and the amount rises slightly as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.
You can have a PSA test at your GP surgery. You will need to discuss it with your GP first. At some GP surgeries you can discuss the test with a practice nurse, and they can do a test if you decide you want one.

Who can have a PSA test?

You have the right to a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test if you’re over 50 and you’ve thought carefully about the advantages and disadvantages. If you’re over 45 and have a higher risk of prostate cancer, for example if you’re black or you have a family history of it, you might want to talk to your GP about having a PSA test.
It’s important to think about whether the PSA test is right for you before you decide whether or not to have one. There are a number of things you might want to think about.

Your GP or practice nurse may not recommend the PSA test if you don’t have any symptoms, and you have other serious health problems that mean you might not be fit enough for treatment for prostate cancer, or if treatment for prostate cancer wouldn’t help you to live longer. But if you have symptoms of a possible prostate problem, your GP may arrange for you to see a specialist at the hospital.
Some men are offered a PSA test as part of a general check-up. You should still think about the advantages and disadvantages of the test and whether it is right for you before agreeing to have one.

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