- Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in Australia and the third most common cause of cancer death
- The five year survival rate for prostate cancer is 95%
Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal prostate cells develop, often from mutations in the cell DNA, and grow in an uncontrolled way
Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas – cancers that develop from the gland cells (the cells that make fluid within the prostate).
Other rare types of cancer that can begin in the prostate include:
- Small cell carcinomas
- Neuroendocrine tumours (other than small cell carcinomas)
- Transitional cell carcinomas
As signs and symptoms for prostate cancer can be similar to other common conditions, it’s important to see your GP or healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms below. Discussing anything concerning with your doctor as soon as possible can help give you peace of mind and offer the best chance of successful treatment if you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis.
In the early stages of prostate cancer you may not experience symptoms, but as the disease progresses you may experience some or all of the following:
Frequent need to urinate
Difficulty starting or stopping urination
Sudden urge to urinate
Reduced flow of urine
Blood in urine or semen
Lower back pain or pain in the hip area
Unexplained weight-loss and fatigue
The TNM system is used to stage prostate cancer, and it helps doctors understand what your cancer looks like. The TNM stands for:
- Tumour – The degree to which the tumour has affected other tissue
- Node – Is a measure of whether lymph nodes have been affected
- Metastasis – The degree to which the cancer has spread to other organs of the body
Along with the TNM information, your doctor will also take into consideration your PSA (prostate specific antigen) level from a blood test, as well as your Gleason score to help determine the stage of your cancer. The Gleason score is usually based on the results of a biopsy of the prostate, and it provides an indication of how quickly the cancer will grow and spread.
The tumour is in half or less than half of the prostate, and has not spread
The tumour may be in more than half of the prostate, and has not spread
The tumour has not spread outside of the prostate
The tumour has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate, but not to lymph nodes
The tumour has spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes or other organs of the body
Approximately 5 –10% of all prostate cancer cases are thought to be hereditary (passed on from one family member to another). Gene mutations that have linked to prostate cancer include:
- HOXB13 – this gene is involved in the development of the prostate gland. Mutations in this gene have been linked to early onset cases of prostate cancer, although this gene mutation is uncommon
- BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 – mutations in these genes have been linked to breast and ovarian cancers in women, however they are also implicated in prostate cancer in men, particularly BRCA 2 gene mutations
- MSH2 and MLH1 – these genes help repair mismatched DNA. Mutations in these genes can result in a condition called Lynch Syndrome, which increases the risk of prostate, colorectal and other cancers
- RNASEL (also known as HPC1) – this gene helps to remove cells that begin to function abnormally. Mutations in this gene mean these abnormal cells are no longer destroyed, which can lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer
The majority of prostate cancer cases are thought to be caused by an acquired gene mutation, which means cell mutations that occur during a man’s lifetime, rather than mutations being passed down from generations.
While there is no single cause of prostate cancer, factors that can increase your risk include:
- Being over 50 years
- High levels of testosterone
- Family history of cancer, such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancers
Prostate cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men.
One in every seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the time they are 85 years old.
While there is no one way to prevent prostate cancer from developing, there are some lifestyle-related factors which can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer7. These include:
- Regular exercise – Aim for at least 30 minutes per day
- Eating a balanced and healthy diet – Visit the Australian Dietary Guidelines for more information.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Cancer Australia recommends maintaining a healthy weight, within the normal BMI (Body Mass Index)* range of 18.5 – 24.9kg/m6,8 *To calculate your BMI = (weight(kg))/(height(m))6
For more information on prostate cancer screening, we encourage you to visit the Cancer Council Australia website.
Icon delivers Australia’s largest private cancer clinical trials and research program participating in international and national trials across medical oncology, haematology and radiation oncology. If you would like more information on participating in a clinical trial, please speak with your doctor.
- Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. (n.d). What is Prostate Cancer? Retrieved on 11th February 2019 from https://www.prostate.org.au/awareness/general-information/what-you-need-to-know-about-prostate-cancer/
- Cancer Council. (2018). Prostate cancer. Retrieved on 12th February 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/prostate-cancer.html
- American Cancer Society. (2021). What is prostate cancer. Retrieved 11 October 2021 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about/what-is-prostate-cancer.html
- Cancer Council. (2016). TNM System. Retrieved on 12th February 2019 from https://www.cancer.org.au/about-cancer/types-of-cancer/tnm-system.html
- American Cancer Society. (2017). Prostate cancer stages. Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/staging.html
- American Cancer Society. (2016). What causes prostate cancer? Retrieved on 11th February 2019 from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html
- American Cancer Society. (2016). Can prostate cancer be prevented? Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html
- Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (n.d). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from https://canceraustralia.gov.au/publications-and-resources/position-statements/lifestyle-risk-factors-and-primary-prevention-cancer/lifestyle-risk-factors/overweight-and-obesity
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