Prostate cancer is a malignant enlargement of the prostate gland. The enlargement or tumour is a lump of tissue that occurs when some of the cells of the prostate grow abnormally. For many types of cancer finding and treating the disease early has proven benefits. With prostate cancer we are not sure.
Screening, or testing well men with no symptoms, for prostate cancer is a controversial issue.
Unlike breast and cervical cancers, where there is a reliable test to support screening all women in certain age groups, there is no test reliable enough to support screening all men for prostate cancer. There is concern that testing well men for prostate cancer exposes them to tests that can cause harm and treatment that may not offer long-term benefits but may leave them with side effects such as impotence and incontinence. Before you decide whether you want to be tested, particularly if you have no symptoms or you have been offered the test, you should weigh up all the pros and cons. Talking it over with your doctor will help you make up your mind.
Cancer Council NSW recommends that men at average risk of prostate cancer have a robust discussion with their doctor from the age of 50 and make a decision based on their own circumstances.
If you are at above-average risk for prostate cancer, that is if your father or brother/s have had prostate cancer, particularly if it was picked up before they turned 60, discuss the pros and cons of being tested with your doctor. Whilst younger men are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than older men, the younger a man is when he develops prostate cancer the more likely the cancer will threaten his health and life. This is because the cancer has more time to progress. It is also the case that older men are more likely to develop other life-threatening health problems.
Here are the risks and symptoms you should be aware of.
For more information contact the Cancer Helpline on 13 11 20.