Prostate cancer is a relatively common type of cancer affecting the small walnut-shaped prostate gland located near base of the bladder found only in men. The gland surrounds the upper segment of the urethra, the tube that leads from the bladder to the penis. In more advanced stages of the disease the tumour may spread to other areas of the pelvis and may eventually metastasise to other areas of the body.
In Australia there are more than 17,400 cases of prostate cancer (nearly 30% of male cancers) are diagnosed each year. 85% of cases are diagnosed in men over 65 years. It is rare in men under 45 and quite common in men over 80. However, in older men the cancer is often small, restricted to the prostate and without symptoms.
Often, the first symptom of prostate cancer is difficulty in urination, as the growing tumour constricts the urethra. Frequent urination (especially at night); a weak or interrupted urine stream; pain or burning upon urination or ejaculation; pus or blood in urine or semen; and discomfort in the lower back, pelvis or upper thighs, are also symptoms of the disease. Other conditions, such as urinary-tract infections, benign enlargement of the prostate (benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH), and sexually transmitted diseases can also cause some of these symptoms. A doctor is best able to evaluate your symptoms and request the tests necessary to make a diagnosis.