Prostate cancer, why do so many men put off getting checked out?


It may be that they are too embarrassed to go to their Doctor or that they are not sure what symptoms to look out for? Blue September sponsored by VHI Healthcare aims to tackle this with a nationwide awareness highlighting male specific cancers.

Prostate Cancer is more prevalent than Testicular Cancer and accounts for 94% of male cancers,while Testicular Cancer accounts for 6% of male cancers.Prostate Cancer is the second most common Cancer found in men in Ireland. It is the most common in men over the age of 50. However, most cases occur in men over the age of 65. 1 in 12 Irishmen will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer during their lifetime.

 What are the symptoms of Prostate Cancer?

Men with early Prostate Cancer are unlikely to have any symptoms at all. Prostate Cancers usually only cause symptoms when they are large enough to disturb your bladder or press on the tube that drains urine.

The Symptoms of Prostate Cancer include:

  • Passing urine more often, especially at night.
  • Pain or difficulty when passing urine.
  •  Trouble starting or stopping the flow of urine.
  •  The feeling of not having emptied your bladder.
  •  Frequent pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs.
  •  Trouble having or keeping an erection.
  •  Blood in your urine or sperm (very rare)

 Risk Factors:

Although the causes of Prostate Cancer are not known, there are certain risk factors including age, family history and diet which seems to increase the risk of developing the disease. The majority of men diagnosed with Prostate Cancer are aged over 50 years and the risk increases as they get older.

Men whose brother or father developed Prostate Cancer at a young age have an increased risk while there is some evidence to suggest that men who eat a lot of red meat or a lot of high-fat dairy products and have a low green vegetable consumption have a slightly higher chance of developing Prostate Cancer.

 A diet high in Calcium may increase risk.

The recommended daily intake of Calcium is 3 portions of low fat dairy products per day. Eating foods that contain Lycopene and Selenium may protect you against Prostate Cancer. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, tomato products, red grapefruits, watermelons and apricots. Selenium is found in tuna, cod, beef, oatmeal and whole wheat bread.

How is Prostate Cancer diagnosed?

Anyone who is concerned about possible symptoms should firstly visit their GP who can carry out a rectal examination and take blood tests. The blood test measures PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). PSA is a protein made by the Prostate Gland that can be found in the bloodstream. The GP can then refer you onto a Urologist for further tests if necessary,

Sometimes a raised PSA level can be a sign of Prostate Cancer but more often it is caused by something less serious like an inflamed Prostate or an enlarged Prostate that comes with ageing.

Hospital tests include a transrectal ultrasound scan (TRUS) and a transrectal needle biopsy of the Prostate which is the best way to diagnose Prostate Cancer. If discovered early Prostate Cancer can be treated successfully.


The treatment of Prostate Cancer can vary depending on the stage, grade and size of the tumour. the PSA level, your age, general health, lifestyle and likely side effects of treatment.

Some of the main ways to treat Prostate Cancer include:

  • Active Surveillance\ watchful waiting.
  • Surgery: Removal of part or all of the prostate gland
  • Radiotherapy: the use of radiation treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • Hormone Therapy: The use of drugs or surgery to interfere with the production of particular hormones in the body.

Regular check ups including PSA tests and physical examinations may be needed for some men in the early stages of Prostate Cancer before a specific treatment is recommended.

Diet and Lifestyle:

 Research suggests that Pomegranate juice may help slow down the progress of Prostate Cancer. There is also research that suggests that sunlight can help reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer through the production of Vitamin D

Written by Joanne

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