1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
On average 11 Canadian men will die from prostate cancer every day.
Prostate cancer is the third leading cause of death from cancer in men in Canada.
What is prostate cancer?
The prostate is a gland located immediately below the bladder, in front of the bowels. It produces fluid that protects and enriches sperm.
Prostate cancer occurs when some of the cells in the prostate reproduce far more rapidly than normal, resulting in a tumour. If left untreated, prostate cancer cells may eventually spread from the prostate and invade distant parts of the body, particularly the lymph nodes and bones, producing secondary tumours in a process known as metastasis.
One of the most worrying aspects of the disease is that most prostate cancers develop without men experiencing any symptoms in the early stages.
Know the risk factors
Prostate cancer only affects men, as women do not have a prostate gland. Risk factors in developing the disease include:
Symptoms, testing and treatment
Not everyone experiences symptoms of prostate cancer. Many times, signs of prostate cancer are first detected by a doctor during a routine check-up.
Some men, however, will experience changes in urinary or sexual function that might indicate the presence of prostate cancer. These symptoms include:
- A need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- Difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- Weak or interrupted flow of urine
- Painful or burning urination
- Difficulty in having an erection
- Painful ejaculation
- Blood in urine or semen
- Frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs
The purpose of testing is to detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages, before the disease progresses. There are two common tests for initial detection, and depending on the results of those tests you may be referred to a specialist for a biopsy.
Our recommendation is to discuss your situation with your doctor to decide if testing is right for you. Together, you can choose the best course of action.
As an aid to having this conversation, we worked with the Société Internationale d'Urologie on a tool to help men and their families navigate the decision making process.
Download PSA: To test or not to test? (PDF)
If you have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, it's important to keep in mind that many prostate cancers are slow growing and may not need surgery or other radical treatment. Treatment options include:
- Active Surveillance
- Hormone Therapy
Depending on the treatment you undergo, you may experience some of the following:
- Incontinence (involuntary leakage of urine)
- Erectile dysfunction (difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection)
- Weight gain due to hormone therapy
These side effects have different durations for different people.
Because a side effect of treatment may include erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer can have a serious impact on intimate relationships. As many people who have been through the journey will tell you, prostate cancer isn’t just a man’s disease, it’s a couple’s disease. Make sure you involve your partner as you think through the various treatment options.
Support and resources
If you or someone you know has just been diagnosed with prostate cancer you may be experiencing a number of feelings; disbelief, fear, anger, anxiety and depression are common. There are many treatment options and support resources that can help you and your family through this difficult time.
Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC)
Prostate Cancer Canada (PCC) is the peak national body for prostate cancer in Canada.
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