Focusing on Prostate Cancer During Blue September

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Around 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, making it one of the most common forms of cancer for men with over 40,000 new cases every year. The month of September is known as ‘Blue September’ which focuses on cancer in men in particular and looks at the benefits of early intervention.

Health Shield are keen supporters of checking for cancer and having this year launched a standalone cancer screening service, firmly believe in the health and wellbeing benefits of an early diagnosis.

It is not known what directly causes prostate cancer but there are things that increase your risk of developing it, for example age and family history. Most cases occur in men aged over 50 and you’re more at risk if you have a direct relative who has been affected i.e. father or brother.

Prostate cancer happens when some of the cells reproduce more quickly than others which results in a tumour.

Symptoms

There are often no signs of prostate cancer until it is much more developed. It is a type of cancer that can develop slowly, but when it gets to the point symptoms show you may notice:

  • An increased need to urinate
  • Straining whilst urinating or difficulty holding it back
  • A constant feeling that your bladder is never empty
  • Pain or burning during urination

These symptoms don’t automatically mean you have cancer but you should certainly visit your GP.

How do I know if it’s cancer?

You will need to have tests with your GP. It might not be that you need immediate treatment like surgery or radiotherapy/hormone therapy, you may just need to be monitored. However, any worries you have need to be investigated as soon as possible as once the cancer is at a later stage it can spread to other areas of the body including the bones and lymph nodes.

If detected early enough, those affected have a 98% chance of surviving beyond 5 years.

Your GP will do a routine blood test that checks your levels of Protein-specific antigen (PSA). This can then help your GP to decide if you are at risk. They will then refer you to your local hospital for further investigation if required.

However, these symptoms don’t always mean cancer. The blood tests can also show up urinary problems like an enlarged prostate or a urine infection and are indeed affected by recent activity like exercise. If your doctor is worried about your results you will usually be seen within two weeks.

What happens next?

If you are sent to the hospital, they may conduct a rectal examination and if your prostate is found to be hard and lumpy this could be a sign of prostate cancer. From here you may be sent for a biopsy which is the most accurate way of finding out if you have prostate cancer.

If you are told that you have prostate cancer, you can help yourself by talking to someone, whether it’s someone close to you or a professional, and look after yourself. Being able to distress and relax will help. There is some evidence that certain foods can also slow down the growth of prostate cancer, or lower the risk of it returning, so a healthy balanced diet is also key.

If you have access to the Health Shield Cancer Screening service and you are worried about prostate cancer, or any other cancer covered under this benefit, check your information for how to book an appointment and claim the cost back under the Health Screening benefit on your Health Cash Plan.

The Health Shield Cancer Screening service tests for 6 main cancers including breast, gynae, prostate, lung, bowel and skin cancer.

Sources

http://awarenessday.co.uk/event/blue-september-awareness-about-cancer-in-men

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-prostate/Pages/Introduction.aspx

https://uk.movember.com/mens-health/prostate-cancer

https://www.cancer.gov/types/prostate/psa-fact-sheet