Prostate cancer

Prostate Cancer

What to look out for

Prostate cancer is a cancer of the prostate gland, a small gland at the base of the bladder in males. It is the most common cancer in men in Scotland.

Signs and Symptoms

Many of the symptoms are similar to other conditions so they don’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. However, it’s important to visit your doctor if you have any of the symptoms below.

  • Having to rush to the toilet to pee.
  • Peeing more often or at night.
  • Difficulty starting and stopping the flow when you pee.
  • Discomfort (pain or burning) whilst peeing.
  • A feeling that you haven’t emptied your bladder completely.
  • Dribbling of urine.
  • Blood in your urine or semen.
  • Pain in your back, hips or pelvis.

If you regularly experience any of these, you should make an appointment at your GP surgery as soon as possible.

Almost everyone who is diagnosed with prostate cancer at stage 1 will survive their cancer for 5 years or more after they are diagnosed (source: CRUK).

Prostate cancer often develops slowly, without causing any symptoms. This means some people have the disease for many years without knowing.

A specialist's view

Prostate cancer is a major health concern for Scotland. For patients with curable prostate cancer, surgery and radiotherapy produce very encouraging results with the majority of patients surviving more than ten years after diagnosis.

Recent technological advances in imaging and new molecular and genomic tests are providing opportunities to help doctors to detect clinically significant prostate cancer. In this way, we seek to minimise the chance of over-investigation and over-diagnosis. It is hopeful that in the future we will be in the position that we can develop a clinical plan to screen for prostate cancer in a manner that will improve patient outcome but not unduly cause patient anxiety.

Hing Leung, Professor of Urology and Surgical Oncology; Consultant Urological Surgeon; Senior Group Leader at CRUK Beatson Institute.

Getting Checked – what’s involved?

Some people put off contacting their doctor surgery because they think they’ll be wasting their time. But if you’ve noticed any potential symptoms and you’re at all worried, they’ll want to know.

Your doctor will listen carefully to what changes you’ve noticed. They might: 

  • Ask for a urine sample to check for infection.
  • Arrange for a blood test to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA).
  • Examine you internally to feel if your prostate is enlarged or lumpy.
  • Refer you to hospital either for tests or to see a specialist.

If you’d feel more comfortable with a male nurse or GP, be sure to mention this when you make your appointment.


  1. Around 3,400 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in Scotland.
  2. 1 in 10 men in Scotland are at risk from prostate cancer.
  3. Prostate cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK.
  4. Almost 90% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer are aged over 60.

Who’s most at risk?

As with most cancers, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and most cases are diagnosed in men over 50 years of age.

Prostate cancer is also more common among men of African-Caribbean and African descent. Men of Asian descent seem to be at relatively lower risk, although with lifestyle changes including diet and obesity, prostate cancer is on the increase among Asian men. For more information about prostate cancer visit NHS Inform or call 0800 22 44 88

Your risk of prostate cancer is higher if you have a close relative, such as a brother or father, who has had prostate cancer.

Male members of families with female members who’ve had an inherited form of breast or ovarian cancers may also have an increased risk of prostate cancer.

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Further help

Prostate Scotland

Prostate Scotland