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Understanding the prostate and spotting signs of cancer

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Cancer of the prostate gland can develop slowly or it may develop very quickly. The majority of prostate cancers are initially slow-growing and may never cause the man any problems or symptoms during the course of his lifetime.

In some men, however, the cancer can be more aggressive, and some men are deemed more high risk.


In the UK prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. In 2011, more than 40,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK, with 10,793 deaths from the disease. More than 250,000 men are currently living with the condition. In England, 81.4 per cent of adult prostate cancer patients survived their cancer for five years or more between 2005 and 2009.1

Prostate cancer mortality is very closely related to age. The highest mortality rates are associated with older men.

Between 2009 and 2011 in the UK, an average of 73 per cent of prostate cancer deaths occurred in men aged 75 years and over, with more than 99 per cent in those aged 50 and over (Figure 1).

In England there is no evidence to suggest that there is an association between prostate cancer mortality and deprivation.3

Risk factors

Understanding the risk factors associated with prostate cancer can help primary care nurses plan interventions that may help to prevent the condition or reduce the impact it can have on men and their partners.

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