Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand men. Some prostate cancers are slow growing and will never cause problems. Others grow quickly and cause serious symptoms or death. If caught early, prostate cancer can be managed well and can usually be cured,
It’s important to note that not all prostate problems are caused by prostate cancer but that you should get them checked by your doctor straight away.
Signs and symptoms of prostate problems
Prostate problems are common as men get older, in particular:
- peeing more often
- a poor urine flow when peeing
- trouble starting or stopping pee
- getting up often during the night to pee.
These are usually due to prostate enlargement which is not cancer.
However, it is also possible that such symptoms may be due to cancer and therefore it’s important to get them checked by your doctor. Knowing the risk factors for prostate cancer can help with your decision to get checked.
Prostate cancer is more common as men get older. It is rare in men aged under 50. Most prostate cancers are found in men age 65 or older. Men who get prostate cancer before the age of 70 are more likely to need treatment. This is because younger men will live with their cancer for longer and there is more time for it to progress and cause problems. So it’s important for younger men to talk to their doctor, nurse or health professional about their risk of prostate cancer.
There is a greater risk if a close family member, a father or brother has had prostate cancer.
Who can get tested?
Having a prostate check is the patient’s decision but any man over the age of 50 who wants to know, should be offered a digital rectal examination and PSA test.
Following these tests, your doctor will discuss your prostate check results with you. If the results indicate you have a higher risk of prostate cancer, your doctor will refer you to a specialist (urologist).
The specialist will discuss having a biopsy - which is a test that looks at a sample of your prostate cells.
The aim of these investigations is to find out if you might have early prostate cancer and, if so, whether it needs treatment. The treatment options can then be discussed with you.
If the biopsy shows no evidence of cancer you will be advised to attend future check-ups.