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What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is when the cells of your prostate gland grow in an abnormal way to form a lump (tumour). Prostate cancer is a common cancer in Ireland. Around 3,900 men are diagnosed with it each year.
Early (localised) prostate cancer: Cancer found only within the prostate gland.
Locally spread prostate cancer: Cancer that has broken through the capsule (covering) of the prostate or has spread outside the gland to nearby tissues, such as seminal vesicles, lymph nodes, or your back passage (rectum).
Metastatic (advanced) prostate cancer: This is when prostate cancer cells have spread and are affecting other parts of your body, away from the prostate gland. The most common place for prostate cancer to spread to is your bones. Read more about metastatic prostate cancer.
Although prostate cancer is common, it is very successfully treated for the majority.
What is the prostate and what does it do?
The prostate gland is a small gland about the size of a walnut. It sits at the base of the bladder and in front of the rectum (back passage). The tube that drains urine from the bladder (urethra) runs down through the centre of the prostate gland, letting urine flow out of the body through the penis.
The prostate makes a thick white fluid that mixes with sperm to make semen. It also makes a protein called PSA or prostate specific antigen.
The PSA protein turns semen into liquid. Some of this protein can pass into the bloodstream. When doctors check the prostate gland, they often measure levels of this protein in your blood. This is called the PSA test.
If your PSA level is higher than normal, it can sometimes be a sign of prostate cancer. However it can also be a sign of a less serious condition like a prostate or urinary infection.
We use the term ‘man / men’ in our prostate cancer information but we understand that not everyone who has a prostate gland identifies as a man.
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, we are here for you. For confidential advice, information and support, contact our Support Line on Freephone 1800 200 700.
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