If you or someone you love is suspected of having prostate cancer, rest assured you are not alone. Australian prostate cancer statistics show it is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, with about 66 men in Australia being diagnosed with the condition every day.

Importantly, expert help is available. Our urology specialists and doctors provide world-class diagnostic and treatment options for people with prostate issues, including prostate cancer.

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a walnut-shaped gland, about the size of a golf ball, that sits just below the bladder in men. It makes the seminal fluid that transports and nourishes sperm.

Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate gland grow abnormally and form a tumour. It is also sometimes known as prostatic cancer or cancer of the prostate gland.

Many prostate cancers grow slowly and do not cause any symptoms for several years, but some are more aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body.

Other conditions can cause the prostate to grow, including prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) and benign prostate enlargement. It is important to see a healthcare professional to get the right diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Causes of prostate cancer

The exact cause of prostate cancer is not fully understood. However, there are several factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. These include:

  • Your age – the risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older, especially after the age of 50.
  • Family history – if a close member of your family (such as your father or brother) has had prostate cancer, you may be at higher risk.
  • Your ethnic background – African American men are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer.
  • Lifestyle factors – lack of physical activity and a diet high in red meat and low in vegetables and fruits may increase your risk.
  • Obesity – people with obesity may be at higher risk of prostate cancer than those who are a healthy weight.

While these factors can contribute to the risk, it's important to note that anyone with a prostate can develop prostate cancer. Also, having these risk factors does not necessarily mean you will develop prostate cancer. Talk to your GP about your individual risk and what you can do to manage it.​​​

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

In its early stages, prostate cancer often does not cause any symptoms. However, as the cancer progresses, you may experience:

  • difficulties with urinating – such as more frequent urination, pain while urinating, or a weak urine stream
  • erectile dysfunction – difficulties with achieving or maintaining an erection
  • blood in the urine or semen.

If the cancer has spread, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and pain in the lower back or pelvis.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, book an appointment with your GP.​​​​

Prostate cancer diagnosis and testing

Early diagnosis of prostate cancer provides the best chance of successful treatment. If your GP thinks you could have prostate cancer, they may send you for one or more tests. These include:

  • prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – this blood test measures the level of a protein produced by the prostate. An elevated level may or may not indicate a potential issue, so PSA testing is often used in conjunction with other tests.
  • digital rectal examination (DRE) – your GP may use this test to check your prostate before recommending a biopsy. It involves placing a gloved, lubricated finger into the rectum to check for abnormalities in the prostate.
  • biopsy – which involves removing small sections of tissue from various parts of the prostate gland and checking them for cancer cells in a lab.
  • other tests – If cancer is found in your prostate, you may be referred for other tests (such as CT, MRI, or bone scans). These can help you and your healthcare team work out how best to manage it.

Prostate cancer treatment options

Treatment for prostate cancer will depend on various things, including the cancer stage and aggressiveness, your overall health, and your personal preferences. Treatment for prostate cancer may include:

Active surveillance

Active surveillance of prostate cancer involves monitoring the condition with regular tests. It is often suitable for early-stage and slow-growing tumours.


Surgical removal of the prostate (prostatectomy) may be recommended in some cases.


This involves using targeted radiation to destroy cancer cells. It can be delivered externally using beams of radiation (which is called external beam radiation therapy) or by implanting radioactive seeds internally (which is called brachytherapy).

Androgen deprivation therapy or ADT

Also known as hormone therapy, this involves lowering your testosterone levels to slow the growth of prostate cancer cells.


This involves giving you medications to kill cancer cells or prevent their growth.

Prostate cancer treatment Northern Beaches Hospital

Remember, early detection and quality care for prostate cancer can improve your chances of a favourable outcome. If you have any concerns about your prostate health, see your GP without delay.

At Northern Beaches Hospital, our experienced urologists provide expert diagnosis and treatment. You can use our specialist and doctor search to find leading Northern Beaches prostate cancer specialists and doctors and ask your GP to refer you to one of them.

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