Prostate cancer: When should I get tested - and what support is available?

ITV News explains all you need to know as prostate cancer charities reiterate the necessity of knowing the disease's most prominent symptoms

Prostate cancer charities are reiterating the importance of men coming forward for test screenings as it looks to raise awareness of the disease.

Prostate Cancer UK has released a new advert to coincide with prostate cancer awareness month - taking place in March - with the aim as ever to improve public understanding.

Currently, there is no national screening programme for prostate cancer - a disease which kills around 12,000 men in the UK every year.

Are you concerned you might be displaying prostate cancer symptoms? ITV News explains all you need to know.

Prostate Cancer UK is urging men to regularly test for the disease as part of a new campaign video launched to coincide with prostate cancer awareness month

What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?

Often, those suffering with prostate cancer do not display symptoms, but some signs can include:

  • Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night;

  • Needing to rush to the toilet;

  • Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy);

  • Straining or taking a long time while peeing;

  • Weak flow;

  • Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully;

  • Blood in urine or blood in semen

What are the causes of prostate cancer

Causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown, but the NHS says there are risk factors which can increase your chances of developing it.

For example, the likelihood of you developing prostate cancer increases as you get older, while recent research suggests that obesity can play a part in whether you develop the disease.

For yet undiscovered reasons, prostate cancer is also more common in black men and less common in Asian men.

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Can I get tested for prostate cancer?

Currently, there is neither no national screening programme or a single test available for prostate cancer.

All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks that your doctor should discuss with you, including:

  • Blood tests;

  • A physical examination of your prostate (known as a digital rectal examination);

  • MRI scans;

  • Biopsy

If you are over the age of 50 you can also request a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test from your GP.

These are not routinely used to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable. Your PSA level can also be raised by other, non-cancerous conditions.

How is prostate cancer treated?

Typical treatments for prostate cancer can include surgically removing your prostate and radiotherapy.

But a prostate cancer diagnosis does not necessarily mean you will need treatment.

For example, if the cancer is caught at an early stage and not causing symptoms, then your doctor may suggest either "watchful waiting" or "active surveillance".

For those cases caught at a later stage - where the cancer has spread to other parts of the body and cannot be cured - treatment options will focus prolonging life and relieving symptoms.

Prostate cancer helplines

If you are concerned you may be displaying symptoms consistent with prostate cancer you can access help from the following organisations:

  • Prostate Cancer UK offers a range of support resources on its official website, including physical and mental wellbeing and financial advice;

  • The NHS advises anyone with suspected symptoms to visit their GP at the earliest opportunity. A general overview of the disease is available online, with information available on areas from diagnosis to treatment options;

  • MacMillan Cancer Support operates a free to use daily support line (08088 08000) between 8am to 8pm as well as an online chat service

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