Prostate cancer can affect men in their 40s as much as it does older people, a new study suggests.
The findings, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), go against the common view that prostate cancer is purely a disease of old age.
The study screened men in their 40s for prostate cancer, and found as many cases of disease as are typically seen in older patients.
Researchers led by Professor Freddie Hamdy, from the University of Sheffield, studied 442 British men aged 45 to 49, and found a total of 54 had abnormal levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), the biomarker used as an indicator of cancer.
Further tests confirmed prostate cancer in 10 men - a 2.3% detection rate comparable with that normally encountered when older men are tested.
John Neate, chief executive of The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "These results will need to be carefully considered in reviewing our approach to PSA testing in the UK.
"Lowering the age at which PSA testing may be requested could lead to the identification of some men with aggressive prostate cancers.
"At the same time, it is important to balance this against the certainty that many men who do not have prostate cancer would have anxiety levels raised unnecessarily, and that some over-treatment is likely of prostate cancers which are not clinically significant."
"In Scotland a government directive should make it obligatory for GPs etc., to give men a prostate cancer test when required and certainly starting from the age of 45. During my treatment consultants told me to inform my son (aged 40) to have a PSA test done ASAP" - J. Steel, Chair, Ayrshire & Arran Prostate Support Group
"Definitely. My husband (aged 55) has recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer, early stage, with few symptoms. I obviously support this" - Mrs Eleanor Murray, Carronbank HC