Prostate cancer (prostate carcinoma)

Prostate cancer (prostate carcinoma)

Prostate cancer rates in the Netherlands are high. Every year, more than 10,000 men in the Netherlands are diagnosed with prostate cancer. Over 70% of the cases are men aged over 65 years.

Autopsies have shown that of all men aged between 50 and 60 years, 10% to 30% have prostate cancer. This rises to 50% to 70% for men aged between 70 and 80. Almost all men get prostate cancer if they are old enough.

Prostate cancer grows slowly, but it can spread. It often spreads to the bones or the lymph glands.

Prostate cancer symptoms

In the early stage, prostate cancer has very few symptoms. In some cases there may be problems with urinating, such as more frequent urinating. There may be a burning sensation when urinating, and the urine may contain blood or be cloudy. These symptoms, however, are often the effects of existing prostate enlargement.

Causes of prostate cancer

The cause of prostate cancer is still largely unknown. It is thought to be related to a change in the hormone balance of the prostate. It is also more common among men in Western Europe and the USA than in the rest of the world. This may be related to the Western diet of a lot of fat and proteins.

Prostate cancer is often found in the same families, which suggests a genetic factor. Which gene is associated with this phenomenon is as yet unclear. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of all men have a genetic predisposition to prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer (prostate carcinoma) is not contagious and is also not or minimally related to masturbation.


Every year about 2,400 men die of prostate cancer in the Netherlands. Men in the Netherlands have a 6.7% chance that they are diagnosed with prostate cancer before they are 75 years old. The risk groups are: advanced age; African or Dutch Antilles descent; and belonging to a family with a high incidence of prostate cancer. It is thought that the chance that men with a first-degree relative (son, father or brother) with prostate cancer get prostate cancer themselves is twice as high.

The definition of a genetic (hereditary) predisposition to prostate cancer (HPV) is:

A Health Council of the Netherlands’ committee that evaluates screening requests recommends the following: men aged 50 and onwards from ‘genetic prostate cancer’ prone families should be PSA tested twice a year (if the PSA value is 3.0 ng/ml or more).

Incidence, risks and prevention of prostate cancer

Every year, more than 10,000 men in the Netherlands are diagnosed with prostate cancer and about 2,500 of them die from this disease every year. It is the most common form of cancer among men.

There has been a clear rise in the number of prostate cancer patients since 1990, but over the last few years this number seems to have stabilised. The reason behind this rise is the introduction of the PSA test. Despite this, the death rate among prostate cancer patients has only dropped slightly. The drop is probably because of early diagnosis.

There are no clear risk factors known for prostate cancer. However, prostate cancer is more common among older men. That said, prostate cancer is not only a disease of older men. Further, the incidence of prostate cancer is also related to the family and the ethnic background (prostate cancer is more prevalent among men with darker skins). There are some indications that substances in tomatoes and soya products may reduce the chance of prostate cancer.