Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer occurs when abnormal prostate cells develop, often from mutations in the cell DNA, and grow in an uncontrolled way.

Last modified: November 4, 2021

Quick facts about prostate cancerQuick facts

  • Prostate cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men in Malaysia.
  • Increased incidence rate of prostate cancer occurs for men who are 60 years old and above.
  • The lifetime risk of getting prostate cancer is 1 in 94 men in Malaysia. Malay men were found to have the highest incidence followed by Indian and Chinese.

Types of prostate cancerTypes of prostate cancer

Almost all prostate cancers are adenocarcinomas – cancers that develop from the gland cells (the cells that make fluid within the prostate).

  • Other rare types of cancer that can begin in the prostate include:
  • Small cell carcinomas
  • Neuroendocrine tumours (other than small cell carcinomas)
  • Transitional cell carcinomas
  • Sarcomas

Signs and symptoms of prostate cancerSigns and symptoms

As signs and symptoms for prostate cancer can be similar to other common conditions, it’s important to see your GP or healthcare professional if you experience any of the symptoms below. Discussing anything concerning with your doctor as soon as possible can help give you peace of mind and offer the best chance of successful treatment if you receive a prostate cancer diagnosis.

In the early stages of prostate cancer you may not experience symptoms, but as the disease progresses you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Frequent need to urinate

  • Difficulty starting or stopping urination

  • Sudden urge to urinate

  • Reduced flow of urine

  • Blood in urine or semen

  • Lower back pain or pain in the hip area

  • Unexplained weight-loss and fatigue

Stages of prostate cancerStages

The TNM system is used to stage prostate cancer, and it helps doctors understand what your cancer looks like. The TNM stands for:

  • Tumour – The degree to which the tumour has affected other tissue
  • Node – Is a measure of whether lymph nodes have been affected
  • Metastasis – The degree to which the cancer has spread to other organs of the body

Along with the TNM information, your doctor will also take into consideration your PSA (prostate specific antigen) level from a blood test, as well as your Gleason score to help determine the stage of your cancer.  The Gleason score is usually based on the results of a biopsy of the prostate, and it provides an indication of how quickly the cancer will grow and spread.

Stage I

The tumour is in half or less than half of the prostate, and has not spread

Stage IIA

The tumour may be in more than half of the prostate, and has not spread

Stage IIB

The tumour has not spread outside of the prostate

Stage III

The tumour has spread beyond the outer layer of the prostate, but not to lymph nodes

Stage IV

The tumour has spread to nearby tissues, lymph nodes or other organs of the body

Treatment for prostate cancer

There are many different types of treatment for prostate cancer. Your treatment will depend on you and your cancer.

Frequently asked questions about prostate cancerFAQs

Is prostate cancer hereditary?

Approximately 5 –10% of all prostate cancer cases are thought to be hereditary (passed on from one family member to another). Gene mutations that have linked to prostate cancer include:

  • HOXB13 – this gene is involved in the development of the prostate gland. Mutations in this gene have been linked to early onset cases of prostate cancer, although this gene mutation is uncommon
  • BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 – mutations in these genes have been linked to breast and ovarian cancers in women, however they are also implicated in prostate cancer in men, particularly BRCA 2 gene mutations 
  • MSH2 and MLH1 – these genes help repair mismatched DNA. Mutations in these genes can result in a condition called Lynch Syndrome, which increases the risk of prostate, colorectal and other cancers 
  • RNASEL (also known as HPC1) – this gene helps to remove cells that begin to function abnormally. Mutations in this gene mean these abnormal cells are no longer destroyed, which can lead to an increased risk of prostate cancer

The majority of prostate cancer cases are thought to be caused by an acquired gene mutation, which means cell mutations that occur during a man’s lifetime, rather than mutations being passed down from generations. 

What causes prostate cancer?

While there is no single cause of prostate cancer, factors that can increase your risk include:

  • Being over 50 years
  • High levels of testosterone
  • Family history of cancer, such as breast, ovarian and prostate cancers
  • Low intake of fruit and vegetables
How common is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Malaysian men. On average, there ae about 336 men diagnosed with prostate cancer yearly. 68.6% of the prostate cancer cases are discovered at the advanced stages (stage III and IV).

Prostate cancer usually affects older men. In Malaysia, men from 70 to 74 years old has the highest incidence rate for prostate cancer.

What can I do to decrease my risk of prostate cancer?

While there is no one way to prevent prostate cancer from developing, there are some lifestyle-related factors which can help reduce your risk of prostate cancer7. These include:

  • Regular exercise – Aim for at least 30 minutes per day
  • Eating a balanced and healthy diet – Visit the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines by the Ministry of Health for more information.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – The Ministry of Health in Malaysia recommends maintaining a healthy weight, within the normal BMI (Body Mass Index)* range of 18.5 – 24.9kg/m6,8 *To calculate your BMI = (weight(kg))/(height(m))6
What’s the risk of having prostate cancer again?

Here are some useful links to help you understand the risks of developing prostate cancer again, or being affected by a second type of cancer:

Where can I find out more about prostate cancer screening?

There is no national screening programme for prostate cancer screening in Malaysia at the moment. MOH Malaysia recommends asymptomatic men with family history of prostate cancer to go for selective screening from the age of 40 years old and above.

For more information on prostate cancer diagnosis screening, we encourage you to visit MYHealth Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia or the National Cancer Society Malaysia.


For a full list of references, click here.
  1. Institute Kanser Negara. (2023). Summary of Malaysian National Cancer Registry Report 2012-2016. Retrieved on 4 October 2023 from
  2. Ministry of Health Malaysia, Health Technology Assessment Section. Health Technology Assessment Report on Prostate Cancer Screening. Retrieved on 23 November 2023 from
  3. Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. (n.d). What is Prostate Cancer? Retrieved on 11th February 2019 from
  4. Cancer Council. (2018). Prostate cancer. Retrieved on 12th February 2019 from
  5. American Cancer Society. (2021). What is prostate cancer. Retrieved 11 October 2021
  6. Cancer Council. (2016). TNM System. Retrieved on 12th February 2019 from
  7. American Cancer Society. (2017). Prostate cancer stages. Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from
  8. American Cancer Society. (2016). What causes prostate cancer? Retrieved on 11th February 2019 from
  9. American Cancer Society. (2016). Can prostate cancer be prevented? Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from
  10. Cancer Australia, Australian Government. (n.d). Overweight and obesity. Retrieved on 13th February 2019 from
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