Prostate cancer occurs in the prostate — a small walnut-shaped gland in men. Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis. This can lead to a number of symptoms related to the bladder. One warning sign in particular can disrupt a person’s sleeping pattern.
Getting up more frequently to urinate during the night may signal the deadly disease
According to the NHS, getting up more frequently to urinate during the night may signal the deadly disease. This is medically known as nocturia.
Other bladder-related symptoms include:
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to urinate (hesitancy)
- Straining or taking a long time while peeing
- Weak flow
- Feeling that a person’s bladder has not fully emptied
- Blood in urine or blood in semen
According to Cancer Research UK, the above symptoms are much more likely to be the result of an enlarged prostate gland than cancer.
As men get older their prostate gland enlarges. It isn’t normally cancer but instead a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), notes the charity. Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the medical term for an enlarged prostate.
The symptoms are similar because BPH is also caused by increased pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis.
However, if a person recognises any of the symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, a person should visit their GP, advised the NHS.
Who is at risk?
It is not clear what causes prostate cancer but certain factors may raise a person’s risk of developing the disease. According to Cancer Research UK, age is a significant risk factor. The disease is most common in men aged 75 to 79 years.
Other risk factors include:
- Ethnic group – prostate cancer is more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent than in Asian men
- Family history – having a brother or father who developed prostate cancer before age 60 seems to increase a person’s risk of developing it; research also shows that having a close female relative who developed breast cancer may also increase a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer
- Obesity – recent research suggests there may be a link between obesity and prostate cancer and a balanced diet and regular exercise may lower a person’s risk of developing prostate cancer
- Diet – research is ongoing into the links between diet and prostate cancer and there is some evidence that a diet high in calcium is linked to an increased risk of developing prostate cancer
Interestingly, height may also raise a person’s risk. As Cancer Research UK explains, taller men have a higher risk than shorter men of getting a faster growing (high grade) prostate cancer or prostate cancer that has spread.
Eating a certain food may reduce a person’s risk of developing the disease.
How to test for prostate cancer
According to the NHS, there’s no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. “Your GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety,” the health body explained.
A person’s GP is likely to:
- Ask for a urine sample to check for infection
- Take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing
- Examine a person’s prostate by inserting a gloved finger into their bottom – called digital rectal examination
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