News reports that scientists from the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and Addenbrooke’s Hospital have discovered that there are five kinds of prostate cancer, the most common cancer among men in the UK.
The study conducted by British scientists has found prostate cancer treatment could be transformed by the discovery that it is actually five different diseases.
The breakthrough could help doctors to better distinguish the common, slow-growing forms of the disease from the deadlier, faster-growing varieties. This will spare men unnecessary treatment and save the lives of 11,000 people who die from the disease every year.
Consequently, we have spoken to Dr Gordon Muir, Consultant Urological Surgeon at London Bridge Hospital who has provided expert advice to help those who may be affected.
What are the main symptoms of prostate cancer?
Early prostate cancer causes no symptoms and can be diagnosed only by examination or a blood test. Advanced prostate cancer may present with bone pain, difficulty passing urine, or general malaise.
How is prostate cancer normally diagnosed?
A blood test (PSA) followed by biopsy. The work between King’s and Guy’s Hospitals has pioneered the use of MRI scanning and targeted, more accurate biopsies via the transperineal approach. This is offered to patients at the London Bridge Hospital as a routine.
What treatment options would you recommend for prostate cancer – what are the advantages/disadvantages of radical treatment versus active surveillance?
With early prostate cancer we are now focusing on selection of those men who need radical treatment and those who can be safely monitored by either active surveillance or minimally invasive treatment. It’s a complex field with many different factors and each man should be offered an entirely bespoke treatment plan.
Do you have any tips to help men engage more with their health, to reduce the incidences of prostate cancer by ignorance?
PSA testing reduces the death rate from prostate cancer but in the trials published so far, too many men have had radical treatment to justify a widespread screening programme. So our work on stratifying risk is very important and exciting. In general, men will gain less from prostate cancer screening as they get older, so we would not ordinarily recommend PSA testing beyond 70 years of age, but there is an argument for beginning screening much earlier in high risk men.
Are there any lifestyle factors that are commonly associated with prostate cancer?
The most important factors are race (black men are much more likely to develop the disease) and family history – there is nothing a man can do about those! Being overweight and eating a lot of cooked red meat may increase the risk slightly too.
Do you have any advice or tips to help reduce the chance of developing prostate cancer?
Certain dietary factors may reduce the risk – tomatoes, green and yellow vegetables, soya protein, coffee and garlic may all help. As with most diseases, the best advice is to eat a healthy diet and keep fit.