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What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells within the prostate gland. These abnormal or malignant cells grow more rapidly than normal prostate cells.

These cells have the potential to break out from the prostate and spread to other parts of the body such as lymph nodes or the bones. When a cancer spreads to other parts of the body it is referred to as ametastasis or a secondary tumour. When this occurs, cure is usually not possible.

Statistics

Each year almost 20,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and each year more than 3,300 men will die from the disease. This equates to 55 men being diagnosed with prostate cancer and 9 men dying from prostate cancer each day. It is the most common visceral cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death, second only to lung cancer. Approximately 1 in 9 men will develop prostate cancer during their lifetime. These figures are higher than Australian breast cancer diagnosis and mortality statistics.

Symptoms

In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no symptoms.

This makes the disease different from other urinary disorders such as BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) or prostatitis (infection of the prostate) which may present with symptoms such as:

  • Frequency of urination.
  • Feeling of urgency to urinate.
  • Difficulty in starting to urinate.
  • Slow flow of urine and difficulty in stopping.
  • A feeling of discomfort when urinating.
  • Waking up at night to urinate.
  • Pain in the perineal (the area between your anus and scrotum) or lower abdomen.

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