Prostate cancer symptoms don’t tend to appear until the prostate – a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis – is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (the urethra). Because of the proximity of the prostate gland to the bladder and urethra, prostate cancer may be accompanied by a variety of urinary symptoms, especially in the early stages.
But it’s important to note these symptoms are more likely caused by something else, such as prostate enlargement.
Benign prostate enlargement, its full name, is a medical term to describe an enlarged prostate – a condition that affects how you pee.
In some men, the symptoms are mild and do not need treatment, but in others they can be very troublesome.
See a GP if you have any of the symptoms of an enlarged prostate.
Even if the symptoms are mild, they could be caused by a condition that needs to be investigated.
There’s no single test for prostate cancer, advises the NHS.
All the tests used to help diagnose the condition have benefits and risks that your doctor should discuss with you.
The most commonly used tests for prostate cancer are:
- blood tests
- a physical examination of your prostate (known as a digital rectal examination, or DRE)
- an MRI scan
- a biopsy
The NHS also advises on PSA testing: “The blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer.
“Men over 50 can ask for a PSA test from a GP.
“Men are not routinely offered PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable.
This is because the PSA blood test is not specific to prostate cancer.”
It adds: “Your PSA level can also be raised by other, non-cancerous conditions.
“Raised PSA levels also cannot tell a doctor whether a man has life-threatening prostate cancer or not.
“If you have a raised PSA level, you may be offered an MRI scan of the prostate to help doctors decide if you need further tests and treatment.”
For many men with prostate cancer, treatment is not immediately necessary. So the earlier you find it, the better.