What increases the risk of getting prostate cancer?
Four main risk factors increase a man’s chance of developing prostate cancer. If you feel you have any risk factors for developing prostate cancer, you should speak to your doctor.
Age is the biggest risk factor for prostate cancer. In Europe, prostate cancer is commonly diagnosed in men over 65, but it can happen in younger men.
Black men have twice the risk of developing prostate cancer than white men. Asian men, on the other hand, have a lower risk. It is unknown why a man’s ethnicity or race increases or lowers his prostate cancer risk.
We all inherit our genes from our parents. Some prostate cancers may be linked to genes passed from generation to generation by either parent. Although a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer increases if he has a family history, most men who get prostate cancer do not have a family history.
Genes are made of DNA. They contain “information” that determines our traits. For example, having red hair is a genetic trait passed from generation to generation. If you have close family members diagnosed with prostate cancer under the age of 60 and are concerned about your risk, speak to your doctor.
It is well-known that eating a balanced diet and doing regular physical exercises keeps you healthy. A balanced diet includes eating plenty of vegetables, fruit, and fibre, and limited red meat, processed foods, high-fat foods, sugar, and alcohol. Men who are very overweight or obese may increase their risk of developing prostate cancer.
Processed foods include ready meals, takeaways, savoury snacks, cakes, and biscuits.
Obese means you are very overweight, with a lot of body fat, which puts you at risk of serious health problems.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. More advanced prostate cancer may cause signs and symptoms, such as:
- difficulty passing urine
- a less powerful stream of urine
- blood in the urine
- blood in the semen
- bone pain (commonly in the back)
- losing weight without trying
- problems controlling bowel movements
- erection problems called erectile dysfunction
Difficulty passing urine and a less powerful stream of urine are commonly caused by an enlarged prostate, called benign prostate enlargement, or BPE (previously called benign prostatic hyperplasia or BPH). BPE is not cancer and is a treatable condition.
If you or a family member are experiencing any of the above symptoms, it is important to get a prostate check. It can feel frightening when you experience symptoms that may be cancer, but it is always best to get checked.
How should I approach my doctor?
If you feel frightened, anxious, or embarrassed about prostate problems, it is always best to speak to your doctor.
If you have previously visited the doctor but not managed to talk about your symptoms, now is the time to speak up. It is important to find the words that are right for you. We have listed some potential “icebreakers” for you below. Why not say them aloud and see which one feels the most natural to you. You may even find rehearsing what you want to say boosts your confidence and comfort level.
- I want to ask you about a men’s health issue
- I’m having some problems that I want to talk to you about
- I think I might have a prostate problem
- I’m having some problems peeing/weeing
- I’m having some problems getting/keeping an erection
- My friend/brother/father/uncle has been diagnosed with prostate cancer
- I’m worried about prostate cancer
- I’ve had blood in my pee/wee/semen
Just remember, your doctor is a healthcare professional. He/she will listen to you and discuss the best way forward.