Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK, with more than 34,000 men diagnosed each year. For many, there are no symptoms of prostate cancer.

In recent years, there have been important advances in assessments for prostate cancer and at Birmingham Prostate Clinic, our focus is upon a personalised understanding of your individual prostate cancer risk.

How does prostate cancer develop?

Cancer in the prostate, like cancer in other parts of the body, starts with changes in a single cell or group of cells. Normally, the growth of cells is carefully controlled and as cells die, they are replaced in an orderly fashion. When cancer develops, the cells lose this important control system and suddenly multiply creating a mass of abnormal cancer cells, called a tumour. These cancer cells can invade and destroy tissue surrounding them.

It is important to emphasise that not all prostate cancers are the same. In some people, especially older men, prostate cancer will be slow-growing and unlikely to spread during the individual’s lifetime. However, some men will develop a more aggressive, fast-growing prostate cancer which, left untreated, will spread and become life-threatening.

Men with the condition often have no symptoms of prostate cancer and there is no screening programme in the UK. This means that some men with fast-growing cancers are not diagnosed in time for curative treatment, leading to 10,000 deaths a year.

Prostate cancer risk

We do not know exactly why some men develop prostate cancer and others do not, but it is clear that both genetic and lifestyle factors are significant. On average, the overall risk of developing prostate cancer at some stage during your lifetime is one in 12. Risk factors for prostate cancer include:


The older men get, the more likely they are to develop cancer in their prostate.


Afro-Caribbean men are at higher risk than Caucasians and men from the Far East have a lower risk for cancer. BPC has recently worked with the organisers of Black History Month to produce dedicated information about prostate cancer risk for black men.


This is understood to influence the type of prostate cancer you may develop, increasing your risk of having more aggressive forms of the disease.


Studies show there is a link between diet and prostate cancer risk.

Prostate Cancer Symptoms

Very often, men do not experience any prostate cancer symptoms. Equally, it is very important to bear in mind that symptoms associated with prostate cancer are also likely to be caused by other conditions, particularly benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) also known as the enlarged prostate.

These are the symptoms you need to be aware of:

  • blood in the urine
  • frequent need to go to the toilet, particularly at night
  • weak urine flow that stops and starts
  • inability to urinate (urinary retention)
  • persistent pain in the back, thighs and pelvis
  • inability to get an erection (impotence)

Whilst some symptoms of prostate cancer can be less prominent than others, it’s important to seek medical advice if you experience any of the above as detecting prostate cancer as soon as possible can mean there are more treatment options available to you. You are entitled to ask your GP for a PSA test.

You may also be assessed for benign prostatic hyperplasia and other conditions such as a urinary infection and prostatitis. We explain in more detail how we carry out assessments for prostate cancer in a separate section. There have been some very important new assessments for prostate cancer such as the PCA3 test and prostate MRI which enable us to understand your prostate cancer risk better.

We also welcome men who are concerned about prostate cancer symptoms and wish to seek a second opinion.

“Having nerve-sparing surgery has helped me to feel that I’ve put the experience of surgery behind me and that I am able to move on.”
Dr Richard Commander, prostate cancer patient