Prostate gland – What’s it all about?
The prostate is a gland, which is only present in men. It is usually small, walnut-sized and grows bigger as you get older. The prostate gland sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine (wee) out of the body.
The most common prostate problems are: an enlarged prostate, prostatitis, and prostate cancer.1
Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way.
The male hormone, testosterone, stimulates the growth of these cancer cells. This abnormal growth is called a tumour.
The most common form of cancer affecting men is prostate cancer. Notably, it can also affect transgender women, as the prostate is usually conserved after gender‐confirming surgery. The leading risk factors are age (most cases are diagnosed in men over 70 years of age), ethnicity (more common in black African-Caribbean men), obesity, and family history.2
Prostate cancer is usually slow-developing and asymptomatic, with many men living with the disease for years without any problems. The main symptoms of advanced disease are usually urinary outflow obstruction, or pelvic or back pain due to the cancer having spread into the bones.2
In many cases, symptoms of prostate cancer are not noticeable until the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis).
When this happens, you may notice things like:
These symptoms should not be ignored, however they do not necessarily mean you have prostate cancer.3
Contact your healthcare professional (e.g. GP, doctor, etc.) if you think you have any of the symptoms mentioned above.
Many prostate cancers grow very slowly and may never cause any problems. But some can grow rapidly and aggressively. If the latter happens, the cancer may spread beyond the prostate gland.
Prostate cancer is classified in three ways:
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and you would like to learn more about how this diagnosis may affect your everyday life or you would like to speak to someone about it (outside of your medical team), please know there are organisations out there aiming to help and support you.