February 4th marks World Cancer Awareness Day – Did you know that every hour a man dies from Prostate Cancer which equates to 10,900 deaths per year. This means within the next twelve months 44,000 men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. This number has overtaken the number for breast cancer which affects both men & woman and by 2030 prostate cancer is set to become the most common cancer in the UK..
NHS state that: ‘The chances of developing prostate cancer increase as you get older. Most cases develop in men aged 50 or older. For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, and less common in Asian men’.
Prostate Cancer affects 1 in 8 men and if there is a family history, these risks increase even more. These are stark and worrying statistics, however despite this there seems to be a lot of ignorance about the prostate. It is a very small gland, about the size and shape of a walnut. It sits under the bladder and surrounds the urethra – the tube through which men pee. It’s no surprise therefore that one possible worrying symptom is the need to urinate more frequently and at night. But sometimes there are no symptoms of the disease at all!
NHS Choices state that often the ‘symptoms of Prostate Cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra). You may notice things like:
- an increased need to pee
- straining while you pee
- a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
These symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean you have prostate cancer. It’s more likely they’re caused by something else, such as prostate enlargement’
Like all cancers, early detection can save lives. The answer is simple: know the symptoms, get checked if you are worried. A simple blood test is all that it takes, and it is called PSA testing. NHS explain that ‘The blood test, called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test, measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. Men are not routinely offered PSA tests to screen for prostate cancer, as results can be unreliable. Men over 50 can ask for a PSA test from their GP. A PSA level can also be raised by other, non-cancerous conditions. Raised PSA levels also can’t tell a doctor whether a man has life-threatening prostate cancer or not’
Looking after your health and general fitness can be especially valuable in combating some of the effects of the disease and of its treatments, like fatigue for example. Members can take part in a weekly exercise class that Basingstoke Sports Centre has set up just for our Group.
If you, or someone you know, is already one of the 400,000 sufferers, then why not join your local support group? The North Hampshire Prostate Cancer Support Group (NHPCSG) helps men and their partners whose lives are affected by Prostate Cancer. Members can share their experiences and feelings and as the old TV advert used to say, “It’s good to talk”. We meet monthly, offering friendship and support plus help members to be informed with regular talks on health-related matters.
If you want to know more about the North Hampshire Prostate Cancer Support Group or the exercise classes, please feel free to contact us.
Tel: Alan Instone Chair of NHPCSG on 01256 764485