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Prostate screening

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits just under your bladder.  Its job is to produce a thick fluid that makes up part of semen (the fluid sperm swim in).

Why is it important to have a Prostate check-up?

Your prostate increases in size as you get older.  This can cause symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty passing urine;
  • Having to pass urine more frequently;
  • Getting up in the middle of the night to pass urine;
  • Feeling that you haven’t quite emptied your bladder after passing urine;
  • Stopping and starting when passing urine;
  • Discomfort or burning when passing urine; or
  • Blood in urine or semen. 

The most common cause of these symptoms is a condition called Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).  This happens when as the prostate increases in size and puts pressure on the urethra (the tube that takes the urine from the bladder to the penis).  BPH is not cancer, however it can be uncomfortable and distressing.   

Cancer can also cause the prostate to change size or shape, leading to the same symptoms as BPH.  Prostate cancer is the second highest cancer in men in Ireland.  The chance of a man getting prostate cancer is only 2% less than the chance of a woman getting breast cancer (1 in 11 Irish women have a chance of getting breast cancer during their life). 

What does a Prostate check-up involve?

Your doctor will carry out a physical examination and do a blood test for PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen).  If your levels of PSA are high you doctor may refer you for further tests.  

Who should have a Prostate check-up?

If you have any of the symptoms listed above you should speak to your doctor about a Prostate check-up.     

Men who are 50 years and older should have regular check-ups.  Prostate cancer is rare in men under 50 years of age. 

If your father or brother had prostate cancer, it increases your risk.  You should speak with your doctor about regular Prostate check-ups whatever your age.