Prostate cancer is a common disease within men with over 40,000 cases being diagnosed every year in England with up to 9,000 deaths per year attributed to this disease. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. Men with early disease may have no symptoms at all and diagnosis is usually based on a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen). The PSA test is notoriously poor at actually diagnosing prostate cancer however will enable further investigations to be carried out in order to definitively find a cancer if it is present.
The risk factors include increasing age, a family history and being of a Caribbean origin. PSA testing is usually carried out after the age of 50 in the UK by your GP. You may have presented to your doctor with urinary symptoms which although may not be directly an indicator of prostate cancer however can start the process of investigation as required. If you have a first degree relative with prostate cancer (father, brother, son) your risk is two and a half times higher than the general population. Being of Afro Caribbean descent also increases your risk of prostate cancer although we do not know why this population group such a high risk.
Prostate cancer diagnosis has advanced rapidly over the last decade with imaging of the prostate in the form of an MRI taking centre stage in the diagnosis pathway. The MRI is reviewed by the Radiologist and can be scored according to risk of cancer in specific areas within the prostate.
At Springfield Hospital this MRI imaging has been incorporated into a MRI guided fusion biopsy procedure that can locate any suspicion lesions with great accuracy in order to get a definitive diagnosis if cancer is present. We have recently introduced the precision point biopsy system that further enhances the biopsy procedure enabling pin point location of the cancers identified on the MRI.
Prostate cancer diagnosis is happening at an earlier age these days due to greater awareness of this unseen killer. The first step would be to request a PSA blood test if you are at all concerned and your GP can arrange a referral if required to our rapid access service at Springfield Hospital. Further information can be obtained by contacting us at 01245 200 307 or completing our online form.
Written by Mr Ranjan Thilagarajah, Consultant Urological Surgeon