Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, but most men don't know any of its symptoms, according to a new YouGov poll.

Most men surveyed by the polling company couldn't identify any signs of the cancer that affects 47,500 people and causes 11,500 deaths each year.

Its slow growth and usual lack of early symptoms means prostate cancer often goes undetected until it's grown in size.

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Symptoms at that point are often the first sign of cancer, but even older men more at risk of prostate cancer were mostly unable to spot the most common symptoms, with 54% of 70 to 79-year-olds not knowing any signs.

But men were more likely to have had a prostate check with a medic as they got older, which is a crucial step in fighting the cancer that often only shows symptoms after it's spread.

Amy Rylance, Head of Improving Care at Prostate Cancer UK, said: "Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men, so it’s vital men are aware of the facts, including signs and symptoms.

"However, it's important to note that prostate cancer doesn't usually have symptoms until it's already spread.

"This means men can't afford to wait for symptoms before they act and should instead consider their risk of developing the disease, before it's too late."

One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, with the number rising to one in four for black men.

Prostate Cancer UK urges at risk groups like black people, men over 50, and people with a family history of prostate cancer, to consider speaking to their GP about prostate checks from the age of 45.

There is no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK, but the PSA blood test one of the main ways, along with rectal exam, for medics to look for signs of prostate cancer.

Paramedic holding a test tube containing a blood sample
Paramedic holding a test tube containing a blood sample

But Cancer Research UK warns that the PSA blood test is not reliable enough to screen for prostate cancer in people who have no symptoms.

It is all the more important, then, for people to be aware of what to look out for so they can listen to their bodies and spot any worrying changes, particularly in the way they urinate.

These are the main symptoms of prostate cancer that people with prostate should look out for:

Early symptoms of prostate cancer are rare unless it grows near and presses against the urethra, the tube that carries urine.

This is why symptoms usually aren't apparent until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on this tube and affect urination.

You can check your risk of prostate cancer in 30 seconds online using Prostate Cancer UK's risk checker, or you can contact their Specialist Nurses on 0800 074 8383.

Cancer Research UK Health Information Officer Amy Hirst said: "Although early prostate cancer often doesn't cause any symptoms, always listen to your body and take charge if something’s not quite right.

"Be honest and tell your doctor if you notice anything that’s unusual for you or won’t go away - even if it doesn't seem that important or you think it might be a bit embarrassing such as changes to your toilet habits or difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

"Remember, your doctor has seen and heard it all before and they are there to help. In most cases it won’t be cancer, but it’s always best to get unusual changes checked out."