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Know Your Prostate

Know Your Prostate | Jo Divine

Prostate cancer kills one man every hour: not just dads, but brothers, granddads, sons, nephews and uncles. Over 40,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. This is because the majority of cases are symptom free and a limited amount of accurate tests for life threatening forms of the disease means there is no national screening programme in the UK.

Worryingly, a recent survey of 2864 adults, of which 1291 were at increased risk to prostate cancer, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK found that 4 out of 5 men (83%) at increased risk of prostate cancer are unaware of the danger and are therefore not taking measures to reduce their risks and speak to their GP. Sadly, 75% of the men at higher risk said that even if they were aware of the disease but did not have any symptoms, they would not discuss it with their doctor.

Men who are at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer are those who have a family history of their father or brother having the disease, men aged over 50 and black men. Black men have a 1:4 chance of developing the disease during their life.

The men in the survey were asked about their awareness of prostate cancer, including what could increase their risk and what would make them talk to their GP about their concerns. The survey found that 84% of men over 50 did not realise they had a higher than average risk to developing prostate cancer. This was also true of 90% of black men and 50% of the men with a family history. 70% of the men over 50 said that even if they were aware of their higher risk but remained symptom free they wouldn’t speak to their GP. This was also true for 69% of black men and 65% of the men with a family history.

Lifestyle changes can reduce your risk

A major study by Oxford University (2016) has found that every four inches (10cm) on a man’s waist increases risk of deadly prostate cancer by 18%.

The 14 year long study of almost 150,000 men has established strong links between middle-aged spread and the most aggressive forms of the disease. Researchers said a 37 inch waist increased your risk of fatal prostate cancer by 18% than was associated with a 33 inch waist. Having a high body mass Index also increased the risk of developing a more aggressive form of the disease.

Eating healthily, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can significantly lower your risk.

It can also reduce nightime visits to the toilet and improve your sexual function too.

Unfortunately, existing diagnostic tests are not as accurate as they could be, making diagnosis difficult at times. There is currently no way to distinguish between malignant and benign forms of the disease when a man is first diagnosed, therefore the treatments offered may not be the most appropriate for their form of the cancer. Choosing to have invasive treatment such as surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy can lead to long term health problems, including sexual dysfunction, but choosing to have the disease process monitored can lead to anxiety and depression and the fear that the disease may spread.

Prevention is the best medicine

If you are unaware that you may be at risk to developing prostate cancer, visit your doctor. Your GP will be able to examine you and ask you questions about your general health and family history. They will also be able to give you advice about how to reduce your risk of prostate cancer developing by making changes to your lifestyle, including diet, exercise and regular prostate massage.

Men over 40 should be offered a wellman screening appointment where you have your prostate will be examined for any abnormalities and asked questions about your urinary habits, number of nocturnal visits to the toilet and any difficulty in urinating.

Prostate Cancer UK hold many fund-raising events to raise money to help research the disease, including their first GoDadGo race which was held on Fathers’ Day. They would like this race to become a big as the Race for Life for women which began in response to breast cancer but has grown into a national event held annually all around the country, raising huge sums of money for Cancer Research. Go to Prostate Cancer UK to find out how to get involved and make a difference to your prostate health today for your dads, husbands, sons, grandsons, uncles, nephews and godfathers.

Useful websites
Prostate Cancer UK : www.prostatecanceruk.org
Macmillan : www.macmillan.org.uk
Orchid : www.orchid-cancer.org.uk
Tackle Prostate Cancer : www.tackleprostate.org
College of Relationship and Sexual Therapists : www.cosrt.org.uk

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