What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that occurs when the cells in the prostate gland grow out of control. It usually develops very slowly and it may be some years before symptoms start to appear when the prostate is large enough to affect the urethra. The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown; however we do know that the risk of developing this type of cancer is higher in men over the age of 50 and that men with first degree relatives who have had prostate cancer also have an increased risk.
How many people are affected?
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK, making it an important area for medical market research. Over 47,000 men are diagnosed every year in the UK alone, with prostate cancer making up more than a quarter of all cancers in men. Although prostate cancer results in more than 11,000 deaths each year, it actually has a very high survival rate if it is caught early with more than 80% of patients surviving for five years or more.
How is it treated?
In many cases, treatment isn’t actually immediately required. If they are diagnosed early, men are often recommended to ‘actively survey’ the situation by carefully monitoring their condition and symptoms for any changes. If treatment is required, treatment options for early prostate cancer can include removing the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. If patients are diagnosed when prostate cancer is in a late stage, it usually means that the cancer has spread to other areas of the body and isn’t curable, and as such treatment is then focused on prolonging life, reliving patients’ symptoms and making them more comfortable.
Unfortunately, all treatment options carry the risk of side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence, which is why many men choose to delay treatment until there is the risk that the cancer might spread. There are a number of new treatments out there, though, such high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) or cryotherapy, which aim to reduce these side effects.
Who treats it?
People with prostate cancer are looked after by a multidisciplinary team of specialists who work together to provide the right care and treatment for each patient. The team includes but is not limited to:
An oncologist is a doctor who treats cancer and specialises in radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Oncologists will manage the patient’s care and treatment once they have been diagnosed with cancer with responsibilities including explaining the diagnosis, discussing different treatment options, delivering compassionate care and helping the patient manage their pain.
A urologist is a doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of problems affecting the urinary tract and disorders of the male reproductive system such as the prostate. Some urologists, called urologic oncologists, are surgeons who further specialise in treating cancer of the urinary tract and male reproductive organs.
A pathologist is a doctor who specialises in interpreting laboratory tests and evaluating cell tissues samples to diagnose diseases such as prostate cancer.
Radiographers operate the machines which provide radiotherapy treatment for cancer patients. They also provide patients with advice and support if they are worried or anxious about the treatment.
Specialist nurses such as oncology nurses tend to have expertise in a specific area and can therefore provide care for highly complex needs that require specialist assessments and care planning.
Who can we access?
Here at GKA we have conducted 26 medical market research projects in prostate cancer in recent years and have successfully recruited oncologists, nurses, urologists, GPs and patients for both qualitative and quantitative research methods. In fact, we currently have 170 oncology nurses and 800 oncologists on our panel, so if you are thinking about carrying out a medical market research project in cancer, we can help you to reach out to the right people.
If you would like to find out more, why not download our panel book today.