Prostate Cancer – Better safe than sorry

Scientist looking through a microscope - prostate cancer

Okay guys. Let’s go there…

Not many men like to talk about or think about having someone poke a finger up their bum, but shying away can, and does kill. Over 130 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in the UK EVERY DAY. That’s 47,500 per year! In fact, one man dies of prostate cancer every 45 minutes. That’s 11,500 men that die from the disease every year.

Take a look at men around you, or think of your mates and count them. Once you get to seven other guys overlay this statistic… one of you will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. One in every eight men, less than a football team, diagnosed. Not develops, but DIAGNOSED because they were tested!

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a gland and it is only found in men. Roughly size of a walnut and sits underneath the bladder.

Fluid produced by the prostate protects the urethra (the tube that carries urine and sperm from inside the body and along the inside of the penis) and helps to ensure that sperm survives until it reaches an egg.

When a cell within the prostate gets damaged it can grow in an uncontrolled manner and this develops into prostate cancer.

    Prostate Cancer - Better safe than sorry 1

    What to look for

    There isn’t a one-symptom-fits-all but, as the prostate is so close to the bladder, these are some indicators to look for

      • needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night
      • difficulty starting to pee
      • straining or taking a long time to finish peeing
      • a weak flow when you pee
      • a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
      • a sudden need to pee – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet
      • dribbling urine after you finish peeing – the dot of shame on the front of your jeans appears more regularly

    As well as these, the less common indicators can be:

      • pain when peeing
      • pain when ejaculating

    Some men, but not all, may notice blood in their urine or semen* or may have difficulty getting or keeping an erection.

    *These symptoms aren’t usually caused by prostate cancer, and are probably more often connected to other health problems that still need to be checked-out by your GP.

    Risk factors

    Age – Generally, prostate cancer affects men over 50, with the most common age of diagnosis in the UK being between 65 and 69, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the signs if you are younger.

    Genetics – If you have family that have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk increases. If you have a father or brother that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk rises by 2.5 times. Asian men have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer than white men.

    Ethnicity – whilst the current statistics show 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed, African-Caribean men are twice as likely. the risk for those of African heritage is now 1 in four. additionally, black men are more likely to notice indicators from the age of around 45.

    Weight – As with most cancers, there is compelling evidence to show that an unhealthy BMI (overweight or obese) increases the likelihood of prostate cancer being more advanced and aggressive when diagnosed, which can be fatal.

     

      Infographic about Prostate cancer

      Diagnosis

      There are a number of diagnostic methods that may be used, but the first thing is to speak to your GP.

        • A GP consultation – Clearly the best place to begin, and with so many men being diagnosed, you can certain that your GP has dealt with this before
        • Urine tests – Pee in a bottle. This will look for a number of things, including blood proteins. In most cases, prostate cancer is ruled out at this stage, as urine infections are far more common.
        • Blood tests – Blood will be taken and checked for something called PSA (prostate-specific antigen) basically an indicator that leaks from cancers into the blood but are only found in the prostate.
        • DRE – Digital Rectal Examination, yep, the one most blokes try to avoid. The prostate is very difficult to examine due to its location; however, a DRE takes seconds and only requires about two inches of the doctor or nurse’s gloved finger. It may seem embarrassing at first, but once done, you really will wonder why we make so much fuss about it.
      Prostate Cancer - Better safe than sorry 2

      After the above, your GP will know whether to send you to a specialist or not. The specialist, usually a Urologist, may want to rerun some of the tests but has the options of:

        • MRI – A scanning machine that allows the specialist to ‘see’ what is happening inside by rotating very powerful magnets and reading tiny radio waves from the atoms in your body. Vert Star Trek, but completely safe and painless.
        • Biopsy – A small piece of tissue is surgically removed from the suspect area and examined in the laboratory to see if the tumour is benign (basically, safe, or malignant – the type that grows and spreads). Often carried out under general anaesthetic.
        • CT Scan – Similar to the MRI in operation, but you will probably have a marker fluid called a ‘contrast’ administered. The CT scanner uses a form of X-Ray to examine localised areas. Like the MRI, it is painless and has a very low-risk factor; though it uses X-rays, the level is low.
        Anatomical image of prostate cancer test

          Suddenly, a finger up the bum for a few seconds doesn’t seem like a big deal, does it? 

            FAQ:

            What is prostate cancer?

            Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects the prostate gland, which is a little gland inside a guy’s pelvis that makes fluid that helps sperm move.

            Who is most likely to get prostate cancer?

            Usually, guys who are over 50 years old are at higher risk. Other things that could make a guy more likely to get prostate cancer include having a family history of it, being of African or Caribbean descent, and eating a lot of red meat and dairy.

            How can I tell if I have prostate cancer?

            Early on, you might not feel any symptoms. But as it gets worse, you might notice things like having a hard time peeing, peeing weakly or in spurts, seeing blood in your pee or semen, or feeling pain or discomfort in your lower back or pelvis.

            How do doctors check for prostate cancer?

            Doctors check for prostate cancer with a blood test called the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. They’ll also give you a physical exam. If they think you might have prostate cancer, they might do a biopsy to be sure.

            Can prostate cancer be cured?

            It depends on how far it’s spread and how quickly it’s caught. Treatment options can include surgery to remove the prostate gland, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and chemotherapy. Sometimes, they might just watch it closely without doing anything immediately.

            Your doctor will help you figure out the best treatment for you.

            Conclusion

              • Be aware of the risk factors and indicators
              • Overcome shyness or reluctance and speak to a GP or specialist helpline
              • Follow the advice given by the medical professionals in your life
              • Share with your family
              • Donate to support other men – https://prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved/donate
              • Pass this message on to your mates.

            Remember, telling your family and mates you’re dying is much more distressing than a finger up the bum.

            Resources

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