Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer has become increasingly more common in men in the UK over the last ten years and across the UK 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime*. The prostate gland is only found in men and sits underneath the bladder, it surrounds the first part of the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the penis (urethra).

The urethra also carries semen, the fluid containing sperm and the prostate gland produces a protein called prostate specific antigen (PSA).**

Early diagnosis and timely treatment are key elements in successfully treating prostate cancer while improving survival rates. Treatment options may include proton therapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and surgery.

Symptoms

Prostate cancer in early stages may not cause any symptoms but changes to urinary output may be common.

Changed frequency of urination:

  • Dysuria – Difficulty in urinating, may experience pain
  • Weak or irregular flow of urine
  • May struggle to control urination, leaking urine before or after urination
  • May need to strain to empty bladder, feel bladder isn’t emptying completely
  • Nocturia – May urinate more frequently in the night

Other symptoms:

  • Haematuria – Blood in urine, this may present in later stages and should not be ignored
  • Problems getting or keeping an erection

Some common symptoms related to frequency of urination may be caused by prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate) and not prostate cancer, however, it is best to get this checked with your GP.

Diagnosis

A combination of scans, tests and biopsies can confirm details of the size, location and spread of the cancer. It is helpful to have all diagnostic details to hand if you would like to consider a consultation with our oncology specialists.

Prostate specific antigen (PSA) is a protein made only by the prostate gland. To test for a PSA levels a blood test is carried out. The result can indicate abnormalities with the prostate and further tests are then carried out to determine the cause. There are grading systems which describe how slowly or rapidly the cancer grows as well as where the cancer is. In prostate cancer this is known as the Gleason score. Your doctor can explain what your scoring means.

Further tests may be scans (such as MRI or CT) or biopsies. If a cancer diagnosis is confirmed they will carry out further tests to check the rest of the body.

Treating prostate cancer with proton beam therapy

Dependant on the size, type and location of the cancer will then depend on the treatment or combination of treatments required. It may be that there are multiple treatment options in which case you can decide which is best for you. This will be discussed with you by an oncologist (consultant) who will be able to discuss the treatment options most suitable for your diagnosis. Proton beam therapy is a type of external beam radiotherapy and is recommended in specific cases of prostate cancer.

Benefits of treating prostate cancer with proton beam therapy:

This treatment uses protons instead of x-rays (photons) to treat various types of cancer. The prostate gland is surrounded by critical organs such as the bladder and rectum. It is important to keep the dose to these organs as low as possible when planning and delivering radiation treatment. Protons can potentially reduce long-term side effects as the amount of healthy tissue exposed to radiation can be lower than with conventional radiotherapy.

This type of treatment is available at Rutherford Cancer Centres and we are the only cancer treatment provider in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for prostate cancer. Our oncologists specialise in treating with proton beam therapy and radiotherapy. The suitability of the most appropriate treatment will be discussed at a consultation, to make sure a treatment plan is completely tailored to the patient.

Further information & support

Being diagnosed with prostate cancer and deciding on the best treatment can be daunting,  for full details on prostate cancer treatment options or to discuss a diagnosis, please contact our enquiries team. Our enquiries team will endeavour to help you assess your treatment options and advise which consultants could be best placed to plan your treatment pathway.

Proton Beam Therapy

Consultants

*Prostate Cancer UK
prostatecanceruk.org
Last reviewed: June 2016, August 2017, July 2017

**Cancer Research UK
www.cancerresearchuk.org
Last reviewed: 24 May 2019

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