Many men with prostate cancer do not experience symptoms until the disease has spread. This means that they risk being diagnosed too late when the cancer is incurable. With your help, asymptomatic men with prostate cancer could be recognised earlier and their lives could be saved. Prostate Cancer UK believes nurses are in a unique position, as they are ideally placed to recognise men at higher risk of prostate cancer and help ensure that prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing is delivered to best effect.


Men should be considered for PSA testing it they fall into any of these high-risk groups.
  • Age — it mainly affects men over 50, and their risk increases as they get older. The most common age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 65 and 69 years
  • Family history — risk increases with number of relatives affected and closeness of relation
  • Ethnicity — black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed as other men, and often with aggressive disease at a younger age (
Once a patient’s risk has been determined, nurses are in a position to provide them with clear and balanced information about the advantages and disadvantages of a PSA test.

Counselling before a PSA test is imperative to help men decide whether they want to have a test. PSA testing in the absence of informed consent during routine health checks is not recommended. For asymptomatic men who are at higher risk due to family history or black ethnicity, Prostate Cancer UK recommends that PSA testing is considered from the age of 45. Its consensus statements on PSA testing are designed to support primary healthcare professionals to use the PSA test more effectively for men without symptoms of prostate cancer (


Delivering best practice care has been further complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic, and its effect has resulted in an alarming drop in men being treated for prostate cancer. NHS England data from March 2020 to September 2021 shows that urgent suspected urology cancer referrals were 26.5 per cent lower than the pre-covid-19 outbreak baseline. This is why Prostate Cancer UK launched their thirty-second online risk checker.

It asks three simple questions on age, ethnicity and family history of prostate cancer to find men at higher risk and give them the tools and knowledge to speak to their doctor.

So far, over 200,000 men at higher risk of prostate cancer have been advised to talk to their GP as a result of taking the risk checker. To find out more about the risk checker, visit:


Prostate Cancer UK believes that education is crucial to beating prostate cancer and improving quality of life for men. It provides e-learning modules and best practice guidance for healthcare professionals, as well as patient information and resources to support you to support your patients. To find out more, visit: Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses provide a free telephone service on 0800 074 8383, for both you and your patients. You can also chat to our nurses  online via Live Chat and email. The specialist nurses can support with specific concerns related to prostate cancer or the side effects experienced from treatment. We offer a number of bespoke services including the sexual support service, which connects men and partners with a nurse to talk about sexuality, erectile dysfunction and relationships after prostate cancer treatment. The charity also offers the fatigue support service to help men manage their fatigue, a common side-effect of prostate cancer treatment. You can find out more about Prostate Cancer UK’s support service at:
This piece was first published in the Journal of General Practice Nursing. To cite this article use: Prostate Cancer UK (2020) Catching it early: recognising prostate cancer in asymptomatic men. J Gen Pract Nurs 6(4): 22