Talk to a health professional

I’m a black man over 45. What should I do next?

Speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer, even if you don’t have any symptoms.

Remember to tell them if any men in your family have had prostate cancer. You can also call our Specialist Nurses or chat to them online.

Why would I go to my GP if I don’t have any symptoms?

If you do have prostate cancer and it’s caught early before it causes symptoms, you’re more likely to survive prostate cancer.

Most men with early prostate cancer (cancer that’s contained inside the prostate) don’t have any symptoms. If you have prostate cancer and you’re diagnosed when it’s early, you are more likely to survive prostate cancer. You may be able to have it monitored or have treatments able to get rid of the cancer.

Symptoms usually develop if the cancer spreads out of the prostate and into nearby area or around the body. If you have prostate cancer and you’re diagnosed when it’s spread to the area outside the prostate or around the body, you’re less likely to survive prostate cancer. It may not be possible to cure your cancer but you may be able to have treatment to help control the cancer and manage symptoms.

There are advantages and disadvantages of having tests for prostate cancer. Talk to your doctor or nurse about these. Or speak to our Specialist Nurses.

What will happen if I go to my GP?

Your GP will listen to your concerns and talk to you about your risk of prostate cancer. There are advantages and disadvantages to having tests. Your GP will tell you more about these. This can help you decide whether to have tests.

If you decide to have tests, there is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer. There are two main tests that your GP can do to find out if you might be at risk of prostate cancer.

  • A prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that measures the amount of PSA in your blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in your prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. A PSA test alone can’t usually tell you whether you have prostate cancer. But it can help your GP decide whether you need further tests.
  • A digital rectal examination (DRE) is where your GP feels your prostate through the wall of your back passage using their finger. They will check for any hard or lumpy areas, which could be a sign of prostate cancer. You may find the DRE slightly uncomfortable, but it isn’t usually painful and it doesn’t take long.

Your GP will talk to you about all your test results and what they might mean. If your GP thinks you may be at risk of prostate cancer, they’ll make an appointment for you to see a specialist at the hospital.

Contact our Specialist Nurses about what to expect at a GP appointment.

What can I do if my doctor won’t give me a test?

If you’re a black man over 50, you are entitled to a PSA test if you have discussed the advantages and disadvantages with your GP or practice nurse, and decide that you want to have one. If they don’t want to give you one, you can ask to see another GP or practice nurse, or make a complaint. Read more about what you can do.

If you’re a black man aged 45-49, you aren’t entitled to a PSA test until you’re 50. But, because you’re at higher risk, some health professionals believe that you should be able to have tests from the age of 45 if you have discussed the advantages and disadvantages with your GP or practice nurse and decide that you want to have one. We have guidelines for health professionals that explain this. It might help to show these to your GP or practice nurse. Or ask to see another GP or practice nurse.

If you’re a black man aged 40-44, you aren’t entitled to a PSA test until you’re 50. But some health professionals believe that you should think about asking for a baseline PSA test. This might to help work out your risk of getting prostate cancer in future. We have guidelines for health professionals that explain this. It might help to show these to your GP or practice nurse. Or ask to see another GP or practice nurse.

If you’re a black man under 40, you could consider asking for a baseline test when you are 40.

I’m a black man under 45. What can I do?

When you’re 45, speak to your GP about your risk of prostate cancer.

If you’re aged 40-44, you could think about asking for a PSA test to help work out your risk of getting prostate cancer in the future. The aim of a baseline test is not to help diagnose prostate cancer, but to help work out your risk of getting prostate cancer in the future.

There is some research suggesting that your PSA level in your 40s could be used to predict how likely you are to get prostate cancer, or fast-growing (aggressive) prostate cancer, later in life. If the test suggests you’re at higher risk, you and your doctor may decide to do regular PSA tests. This might be a good way to spot any changes in your PSA level that might suggest prostate cancer.

However, we don’t yet know exactly what PSA level in your 40s would show an increased risk of prostate cancer, or how often you should have more tests. Because of this, baseline testing isn’t very common in the UK.

Your GP doesn’t have to give you a baseline PSA test. If your GP won’t give you a test, read about what you can do below.

References

Updated: November 2016|To be reviewed: November 2018