Dr Dawn Harper discusses the symptoms of prostate cancer
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Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men, with over 44,000 being diagnosed each year. Despite its prevalence, the cancer can be hard to detect because it is often confused with a less serious condition. “The main symptoms associated with prostate cancer can be similar to other prostate problems such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), where the prostate is enlarged but is not cancerous, as well as other medical conditions such as diabetes or urinary infections,” explained Phil Day, superintendent pharmacist at Pharmacy2U.
However, there are a number of key warning signs when peeing to be aware of warned Mr Day.
One telltale sign is “feeling like you have to strain to pass urine”, he said.
Other signs include:
- Needing to pass urine more often
- Weaker flow when you do start to pass urine
- Feeling as if you are unable to empty their bladders fully
- Blood in the urine or semen.
“If you are experiencing any new urinary symptoms, please visit your GP,” advised Mr Day.
There’s no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. The GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
The GP is likely to:
- Ask for a urine sample to check for infection
- Take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing
- Examine your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into your bottom – called digital rectal examination.
Am I at risk?
It’s not known exactly what causes prostate cancer, although a number of things can increase your risk of developing the condition.
“Men aged over 50 and with a family history of prostate cancer are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer,” warned Mr Day.
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“Black men are also at a higher risk.”
According to Mr Day, staying a healthy weight, keeping active and eating a balanced diet could all help to reduce your risk of developing it.
That’s partly because being overweight or obese increases your risk of advanced prostate cancer.
Researchers have found a link between being obese or overweight and cancers being higher grade (faster growing).
There is also some evidence that being active might help to lower your risk of developing prostate cancer.
Obese means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. And being overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30.
BMI is the most widely used method to check if you’re a healthy weight. It is a measure of whether you’re a healthy weight for your height.
Hormone levels may also play a part in the risk of developing prostate cancer, warns Cancer Research UK.
“Insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) is a hormone our body makes. It regulates normal cell growth and death,” explains the charity.
Some studies have found that there is a higher risk of prostate cancer when there is a high level of IGF-1 in the body.
How is prostate cancer treated?
Mr Day explained: “Treatment options vary from ongoing monitoring of the prostate to treatment with chemo- or radiotherapy to radical surgery to remove the prostate.
“Monitoring the prostate can be done via the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. This can help to detect changes in the size in the prostate, but is not specific for cancer.”
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