Prostate cancer: diagnosis, symptoms and treatment
The risk of developing prostate cancer increases in the later stages of a man’s life. Find out more about symptoms to look out for, diagnosis and treatment options available at Cromwell Hospital.
Everything you need to know about prostate cancer
Prostate cancer can develop when the cells in your prostate gland start to divide or grow in an uncontrolled way. Depending on the type of cancer you have, this can either happen very slowly or very fast.
The prostate is a gland that is part of the reproductive system and is responsible for producing semen. As men get older it can get bigger, which increases the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer can spread to other parts of your body, so it's important to look out for symptoms and get them checked out as soon as possible.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
The symptoms are not always obvious so it's important to look out for changes in the way you pee. Things to look out for include:
- difficulty when starting to pee
- a weak flow of urine
- dribbling urine before and after urinating
- a sensation of having not totally emptied your bladder fully after peeing
- needing to pee urgently or more often
- waking up in the night to pee more often
These symptoms don’t always mean you have cancer, they can be indicative of other things, such as an enlarged prostate. The important thing to remember is to seek medical advice if you are experiencing symptoms.
Who is at risk of getting prostate cancer?
Around one in eight men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. It’s more common in black men and men over the age of 65, but can affect any man. Since the prostate gland grows throughout your life it's something to look out for as you grow older.
How is prostate cancer diagnosed?
If you are experiencing prostate symptoms, contact your GP. They can assess you and organise for you to have a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test. A PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen, a protein made only by the prostate gland, in your blood.
If the test reveals that you have a raised level of PSA in your blood, they will refer you on to a Specialist for further testing.
At Cromwell Hospital, our prostate cancer diagnosis pathway starts here - with an abnormal PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) detection at a GP appointment or health assessment.
Our rapid diagnostic pathway at Cromwell Hospital is aimed at picking up the signs of prostate cancer as early as possible. It involves an initial consultation with a urologist, a series of diagnostic tests and a follow-up consultation to discuss test results. Tests are generally carried out over one day, to reduce hospital visits and ensure a rapid diagnosis and treatment plan are put in place.
This is a surgical procedure to remove the prostate gland. It can be performed as open surgery, or as keyhole surgery.
Keyhole surgery can either be carried out by-hand or robot-assisted. A robot-assisted prostatectomy is a type of minimally invasive, keyhole (laparoscopic) surgery, which our surgeons perform using a robot known as the da Vinci X robot.
The surgeon still carries out the procedure, but with the help of the robot, which the surgeon controls. The robotic console enables the surgeon to make more controlled and precise movements during the operation.
A prostatectomy is generally performed in instances of localised prostate cancer and sometimes when there is locally advanced prostate cancer.
Hormone therapy lowers the amount of testosterone your body makes, which helps to slow down the growth of cancer cells. Hormone therapy on its own won’t cure your cancer, so you may be offered this as an option alongside another treatment.
HIFU is a minimally invasive procedure which uses high-frequency ultrasound energy to heat and destroy individual cancerous cells in the prostate. It may be suitable for you if your cancer is contained within your prostate (localised cancer), or if your prostate cancer has started to break out of the prostate and has spread to the area just outside the prostate (locally advanced cancer).
HIFU is a minimally invasive procedure, meaning it doesn’t involve any cuts or incisions to the skin and there is less blood loss. Your hospital stay is also short – often you can be discharged on the same day.
Cryotherapy works in a similar way to HIFU but instead of using heat it uses extreme cold to freeze and destroy cancer cells. The procedure involves the insertion of very fine needles into the prostate, which a doctor will then pass a special gas through to kill the cancer cells.
You might have cryotherapy for cancer that hasn’t spread outside of the prostate. You may also have it for prostate cancer that has come back in the prostate after radiotherapy.
Your hospital stay is generally short – you may only be in hospital for a day or overnight – and recovery is also quick. You are likely to be able to resume normal activities within a few weeks of the procedure
Choosing the right treatment for you
There are a wealth of treatment options available and sometimes it can be difficult to know which would be the most suitable for you. Our consultants will talk to you about your options and provide a recommended, personalised treatment plan based on your individual situation.
Why choose us for prostate cancer care?
At Cromwell Hospital, you can expect:
- seamless and rapid transition from diagnosis to treatment
- leading consultant urologists to guide you through each step of the process, as well as a clinical nurse specialist supporting you throughout your cancer journey
- access to the latest innovative treatments, which aim to reduce side effects and maximise quality of life
- every patient case is reviewed by an expert multidisciplinary team who jointly determine a personalised treatment plan for each patient