Prostate Cancer Risk and Tests

Blog Health News 18th November 2022 Enquiries & appointments
A group of men in blue shirts

As men get older their prostates tend to get bigger. This increase in prostate size can cause all sorts of problems that significantly impact quality of life. From needing to urinate more frequently to having a weak flow of urine and even experiencing urinary incontinence, more than 1 in 3 men over the age of 50 will have some symptoms of prostate enlargement.

This is a very common condition associated with ageing and is usually not caused by cancer. However, with 1 in 8 men diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, if you start to experience some of these symptoms, understandably, you may be worried.

There are three main risk factors for getting prostate cancer:


Prostate cancer usually affects men over the age of 50 and as you get older your risk increases. The most common age to be diagnosed is between 70 and 74 years. For a very few men it may happen under the age of 50 but it is rare.

Family history:

There is an increased risk of getting prostate cancer if someone in your family has had it. You are two and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with it if either your father or brother have had prostate cancer and potentially at greater risk if they were under 60 when they were diagnosed.


In the UK 1 in 4 black men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. It is not fully understood why the risk is increased in this group but it is thought to be linked to genetics.

It is important to note that just because you have one or more of these risks factors it doesn’t mean you will get or have prostate cancer. Make sure you speak to your GP or a Consultant Urologist if you have any concerns or questions and seek medical advice if you experience any new symptoms or a change from what you consider normal.

Although we can’t prevent prostate cancer, there are tests that can be performed together to help get a full picture of what is happening with your prostate.

PSA Test:

The PSA test is a simple blood test that measures the volume of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. This is a protein produced by the cells in your prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It is normal to have a small amount in your blood and as you get older the levels may rise slightly as your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA can indicate a problem with your prostate and may require further investigation but not necessarily cancer.

Digital Rectal Examination (DRE):

Healthcare professionals such as nurses, GPs and consultants are trained to be able to identify whether a prostate is enlarged or irregular by feeling it. In order to do this, they will need to perform a digital rectal examination by placing a finger gently into your back passage.

This may be slightly uncomfortable and you may find it embarrassing but the exam doesn’t take long.

MRI Scan:

An MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan uses magnets to create a detailed picture of your prostate and the surrounding tissues. The images from the MRI scan of your prostate can help your Consultant Urologist decide whether you have cancer in your prostate, if you need a biopsy or whether there is another cause for your symptoms.

Prostate Biopsy:

This procedure will be carried out in hospital. Using a thin needle, small samples of tissue will be taken from your prostate and sent to a laboratory to check for cancer.


Early assessment and diagnosis of prostate problems can prevent irreversible damage to other organs, such as the bladder, from the effects of prostate enlargement, and can improve survival outcomes if cancer is detected early.

Not all men will experience symptoms of an enlarged prostate but may wish to check their prostate is healthy.  We offer a healthy prostate assessment for men over the age of 40 for peace of mind.


Find out more



Prostate Cancer UK

Media & Press Enquiries

Madeleine Greenhalgh Senior Marketing & Communications Manager 01622 237663