Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer

What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer begins when abnormal cells in the prostate gland start growing in an uncontrolled way.

In some cases, prostate cancer grows more slowly than other types of cancer. But sometimes prostate cancer can grow and spread quickly, so it is important to see your doctor about any symptoms or unusual test results promptly.

Learn more about:


The prostate

The prostate is a small gland about the size of a walnut. It forms part of the male reproductive system. The prostate sits below the bladder, in front of the rectum and close to nerves, blood vessels and muscles that control erections and bladder function. These muscles include the pelvic floor muscles, a hammock-like layer of muscles at the base of the pelvis.

What the prostate does

The prostate produces fluid that helps to feed and protect sperm. This fluid forms part of semen. Semen also contains millions of sperm made by the testicles (testes), and fluid made by a pair of glands called the seminal vesicles. The seminal vesicles attach to the back of the prostate gland. Lymph nodes are also found near the prostate.

Urethra

This is a thin tube that runs from the bladder and through the prostate to carry urine (wee or pee) out of the body. The urethra also carries semen during orgasm.

Ejaculation

When an orgasm occurs, millions of sperm from the testicles move through the tubes near the prostate called the vas deferens. The muscle around the prostate contracts and pushes the semen into the urethra and out through the penis.

The prostate

The-prostate-diagram

How the prostate grows

The male sex hormone, testosterone, is made by the testicles and controls how the prostate grows. It is normal for the prostate to become larger with age. This may lead to a condition known as benign prostate hyperplasia. Sometimes an enlarged prostate can cause problems, especially when passing urine.


Who gets prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men (apart from common skin cancers). There are about 18,000 new cases in Australia every year.

One in six men in Australia are at risk of developing prostate cancer by the age of 85. The risk of prostate cancer increases with age. It is uncommon in men younger than 50, although the risk is higher for younger men with a strong family history of prostate cancer, breast cancer or ovarian cancer, than for those without a family history.


How common is it?

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men (apart from common skin cancers). There are about 19,000 new cases in Australia every year. 


What causes prostate cancer?

The causes of prostate cancer are unknown, but factors that can increase the risk include:

  • older age – prostate cancer is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 60–79
  • family history of prostate cancer – if your father or brother has had prostate cancer before the age of 60, your risk will be twice that of others
  • strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, particularly BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

While prostate cancer is less common if you are under 50, people aged 40–55 are at particular risk of developing prostate cancer later in life if their prostate specific antigen (PSA) test results are above the 95th percentile. This means their PSA levels are higher than 95% of other people in the same age range.

Inherited prostate cancer gene

You may have an inherited gene that increases your risk of prostate cancer if you have:

  • several relatives on the same side of the family (either your mother’s or father’s side) diagnosed with prostate, breast and/or ovarian cancers
  • a brother or father diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 60.

Ask your general practitioner (GP) whether you and others in your family need PSA testing. For more information, call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Screening tests

Cancer screening is testing to look for cancer in people who don’t have any symptoms. The benefit of screening is that the cancer can be treated early. It is important that this benefit outweighs any potential harms from treatment or its side effects.

Unlike for bowel, breast and cervical cancers, there is no national screening program for prostate cancer. There remains debate among doctors regarding the pros and cons of PSA screening and whether there is an overall benefit.

Some people without any symptoms of prostate cancer do choose to have regular PSA tests. Before having a PSA test, it is important to talk to your GP about the benefits and harms in your particular circumstances.

For more information, visit PSA Testing.

For an overview of what to expect during all stages of your cancer care, visit Cancer Pathways – Prostate Cancer. This is a short guide to what is recommended, from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on prostate cancer


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in April 2020
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