Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and because it develops slowly there may be no signs you have it in the early stages.
Symptoms often become apparent when your prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine form the bladder to the penis – the urethra.
Needing to urinate more frequently is among the first symptoms to appear.
While most prostate tumours are slow-growing, they can sometimes grow quickly and spread to other parts of the body, causing different types of symptoms.
The disease and its treatment can affect your sex life in three overlapping ways, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
According to Prostate Cancer UK, finding out you have cancer can make you feel down or anxious changing your feelings about sex.
The charity states: “Treatment can damage the nerves and blood supply needed for erection. Hormone therapy can affect your desire for sex.
Coping with cancer can change your close relationships, or your thoughts about starting one.
Other symptoms of prostate cancer, according to Bupa, include being unable to urinate, needing to urinate urgently, and getting up to urinate during the night.
Blood in your urine, a week flow of urine when you go to the toilet and trouble starting or stopping when you urinate can also be indicators.
If the cancer has spread outside your prostate, other symptoms can develop. These include difficulty getting an erection feeling tired and generally unwell, pain in your bones or your back, and losing weight.
The PSA test is the recommended method for checking if you have the disease. But what does it entail – is it a blood test, a urine sample or a rectal examination?
Professor Hashim Ahmed, Consultant Urological Surgeon at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital, is asking men not so shy away from having a prostate check, and details what to expect from the test.
Men over the age of 50 who have talked through the advantages and disadvantages of having a PSA test with their GP or practice nurse are eligible for a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.
The first stage of the process is a simple blood test.
A rectal exam can then help identify obvious abnormalities on the surface of the prostate even if the PSA is normal.
Dr Ahmed explains: “If you have a raised PSA, or the rectal exam shows a lump, your doctor may refer you for a MRI scan in a specialised unit, which is a much more effective way of detecting prostate cancer.”
He added that it’s important to note that your PSA can be high if you have prostate cancer but it can also be higher than normal if there is an infection, inflammation or you have a large prostate.
Recent sexual activity before the test or cycling due to the pressure from a saddle can also raise your PSA levels, so make sure your GP is aware of anything that could affect the test.
It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, but a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.