What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer develops when abnormal cells in the prostate gland grow more quickly than in a normal prostate, forming a malignant tumour. The prostate is a small gland that sits below the bladder near the rectum. It surrounds the urethra, which is the passage in the penis through which urine and semen pass.
More than 24,000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in Australia every year.
What are the types of prostate cancer?
Almost all prostate cancers develop from the cells that line the prostate gland – this type of cancer is called an adenocarcinoma.
What are the common symptoms of prostate cancer?
The most common symptoms of prostate cancer are:
- Problems urinating
- Pain or burning when urinating
- Blood in the urine or semen
- Pain in the back, hips, pelvis or chest
- Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet
- Fatigue and shortness of breath
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
Your GP will carry out an initial physical examination and discuss your medical and family history with you. They may also perform a rectal examination and carry out a blood test.
If necessary, your GP may then refer you for transrectal ultrasound – where a probe is inserted into the rectum to create a picture of the prostate inside the body. An MRI and biopsy of the tissue may also be carried out. The biopsy results include a Gleason score which will help the doctor to stage the cancer, if cancer cells are present.
Prostate cancer is staged from Stage 1-4.
- Stage 1: Tumour is small and has not spread outside the prostate.
- Stage 2: Tumour is larger but has still not spread outside the prostate.
- Stage 3: The cancer has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate and may have spread to the seminal vesicles, but not to nearby lymph nodes.
- Stage 4: The cancer has spread to nearby tissues such as the seminal vesicles, rectum or bladder, to nearby lymph nodes, or to distant parts of the body such as the bones.
What is the prognosis for prostate cancer?
The prognosis for prostate cancer varies depending on the stage of the cancer and the person’s overall health.
However, the five-year survival rate is high. Thanks to research, around 96% of patients are still alive five years after diagnosis.
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