• Do we know the cause of prostate cancer?
We do not know why some men get prostate cancer and others do not. As it is a growing phenomenon in the West, there may be a link with the Western lifestyle. There are a number of theories, but no real proof yet of what causes prostate cancer.
• Could I have prostate cancer despite having no symptoms?
Yes, you could. It is not uncommon for prostate cancer to be found during regular health checks despite patients having no symptoms whatever. This further emphasises the importance of asking your GP for a PSA test once you reach 50 or even earlier if there is a family history of the disease or you are black.
• Is time of the essence?
Prostate cancer, diagnosed at an early stage, may not grow rapidly at all. In such circumstances there may be plenty of time to consider and identify the right treatment. But in the event that it is an aggressive tumour or the disease is not diagnosed until a later stage, treatment needs to begin as soon as possible. Early diagnosis to establish the extent and nature of the cancer is important.
• Where can I find out more about the disease?
This booklet provides a useful summary of prostate cancer. If you want to get more information, there are many organisations (see page 23) that provide more detailed advice and also free helplines manned by specialist nurses or volunteer prostate cancer patients.
• Will I pass the cancer to others, and will my family inherit it?
While we do not know the cause of the cancer, it is not infectious and cannot be passed from one person to another through sexual intercourse or in any other way. Prostate cancer can however be inherited. Several genes have been identified which may make a man more susceptible to developing the disease. In other words, if you have a brother or father with prostate cancer, or a close female blood relative with breast cancer, then you are more likely to develop the disease than other men.
• Is prostate cancer likely to affect my day to day life?
Prostate cancer can affect some men more than others, depending on the stage and severity of the disease. However, most patients with prostate cancer continue to be active at work, at home and in their social life and this is encouraged.