Why do we need an awareness month for prostate cancer? Because it’s surprisingly difficult to be aware of...
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – about 1 in 8 men in the UK will get it.
Localised prostate cancer (cancer that’s still contained inside the prostate) usually has no symptoms, so it’s vital to understand your risks.
It mainly affects those over 50, and the risk increases with age. Black people and those with a family history of prostate or breast cancer are at an even higher risk.
The stats on prostate cancer in the UK
Someone dies of prostate cancer every 45 minutes – that's over 11,500 deaths a year
129 people are diagnosed with prostate cancer every day – over 47,500 a year.
There are about 400,000 prostate cancer patients and survivors living in the UK.
2 in 10 cases of prostate cancer aren't diagnosed until after the cancer has spread, meaning it can no longer be cured.
Most early prostate cancer has no symptoms, but you might notice some problems when you urinate:
difficulty starting to pee or emptying your bladder
dribbling after you finish
needing to pee more urgently or more often, especially at night
If the cancer becomes more advanced, you might experience:
back, hip or pelvis pain
blood in your urine
The importance of getting checked
The only way to know if you have prostate cancer is to see your doctor. You can’t check for it yourself, most early prostate cancer has no symptoms, and all the symptoms listed above can be caused by other things.
If you're over 50 (or over 45 if you’re Black or have a family history of prostate cancer) you may want to talk to your GP about getting checked.
Studies disagree on the value of prostate cancer screening. In 2009, the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial in America found it didn’t seem to reduce mortality at all. But in the same year, the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) found that screening reduced deaths by 20%, and estimated that for every death prevented, 48 people were treated and 1,068 were screened.
The newest treatments for prostate cancer
The world’s most accurate blood test
In 2019 MDNA Life Sciences launched the Mitomic Prostate Test, the world’s most accurate blood test to detect prostate cancer that needs treatment. It works by detecting biomarkers in mitochondrial DNA, and is 92% accurate for positive results and over 99% accurate for negative results, meaning it can deliver a reliable ‘all clear’.
High-dose brachytherapy is a new, quick treatment technique that uses robotic technology to implant temporary radioactive seeds in the prostate to deliver low-dose radiation treatment. These have much fewer side effects than permanent seeds and can reduce the need for external radiotherapy and hormone treatment.
The FDA has approved several new anti-androgen medications, which starve prostate cancer cells by reducing testosterone levels. They include:
Abiraterone acetate (Zytiga)