Prostate cancer (prostate carcinoma) is a malignant disease that affects the prostate (prostate gland). It primarily affects men aged over 50 and the likelihood of developing prostate cancer increases with age. The treatment depends on how far the prostate cancer has progressed and the age of the patient. Given that prostate cancer usually grows very slowly, men diagnosed at the age of 70 or older frequently do not need to receive any treatment.
The prostate (prostate gland) is located below the bladder and surrounds the urethra. The gland produces a secretion that is expelled together with sperm during ejaculation. As men grow older, their prostate often becomes enlarged. This benign prostate enlargement results in symptoms similar to those caused by prostate cancer, but it should not be confused with cancer. Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer among men and the second most deadly type of cancer among men (after lung cancer). Prostate cancer primarily develops in men who are over 50 years old. The cancer generally grows very slowly, which is why there is a good chance of recovery if the cancer is detected early on.
The exact reasons why prostate cancer develops are still largely unknown. Men with first-degree relatives who have suffered from prostate cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease. There is also evidence that consuming large amounts of meat can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer does not have any symptoms for a long time. At most, men may experience reduced urine flow, a more frequent need to urinate or pain during urination. However, such symptoms are very frequently just caused by a benign enlargement of the prostate.
For the early detection of prostate cancer, regular check-ups are recommended for men aged 50 and over. The examination involves a blood test to measure the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and a rectal examination of the prostate. If there are signs of prostate cancer (heightened PSA and enlarged prostate), a prostate biopsy is taken. If the biopsy confirms the cancer diagnosis, further examinations are carried out such as a computed tomography (CT) scan.
The treatment of prostate cancer varies from person to person and depends on the size of the tumour, the stage of the cancer and the age of the patient. Small tumours that have not yet spread beyond the prostate are often just actively monitored. That way, surgery can be delayed for many years without affecting the patient’s chances of survival. An operation is required if the tumour starts to grow into the surrounding tissue, or is an aggressive, rapidly growing tumour. Thanks to modern surgical procedures, complications that can occur after the operation – such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence – have become less frequent. You can find out more about the surgical treatment options in the prostate surgery section.