Brian Walker 2.jpgThis month is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and one of the nation’s favourite soaps, EastEnders, has been airing a prostate cancer storyline, which saw fan-favourite Alfie Moon diagnosed with the most common cancer in men.

The story is raising vital awareness of the disease and aims to spark a national conversation, encouraging thousands more men to check their risk and speak to their GPs about prostate cancer. 

Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50, and your risk increases with age. Experts say the risk is even higher for black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer.

Brian Walker is a leading nurse urology specialist at NCIC and is urging men to seek help if they are experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer.

He said: “Anything like the Eastenders storyline is good for helping raise awareness of prostate cancer. It’s something people can relate to and share their symptoms.”

The prostate is a gland. It is usually the size and shape of a walnut and grows bigger as you get older. It sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine (wee) out of the body. The prostate's main job is to help make semen – the fluid that carries sperm.

Mr Walker added: “A man’s prostate usually grows larger after the age of 50 years old and this normal enlargement called Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) can cause problems with passing urine namely the need to pass urine more frequently and a reduced urinary flow which can cause an increase in the need to urinate - especially at night.

“Symptoms of prostate cancer can also mimic this and putting the above symptoms together with an abnormal prostate examination and an elevated prostate specific antigen (PSA) through a blood test, can be a trigger for the need to organise other investigations such as an MRI scan of the prostate and then subsequent prostate biopsies if required.

“Prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra). Symptoms of prostate cancer can include needing to pee more frequently, often during the night and needing to rush to the toilet.”

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK with more than 52,000 men diagnosed each year.

Mr Walker added: “Prostate cancer can develop when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way and early detection is essential to try and offer them a cure if possible.

“Some prostate cancer grows too slowly to cause any problems or affect how long you live. Because of this, some men with prostate cancer may never need any treatment.

“But some prostate cancer grows quickly and is more likely to spread this is more likely to cause problems and needs treatment to stop it spreading.”

Signs and symptoms

  • difficulty starting to urinate or emptying your bladder
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that your bladder hasn’t emptied properly
  • dribbling urine after you finish urinating
  • needing to urinate more often than usual, especially at night
  • a sudden need to urinate – you may sometimes leak urine before you get to the toilet.
  • back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
  • problems getting or keeping an erection
  • blood in the urine or semen
  • unexplained weight loss

What to do if you’re worried

Anyone who is worried that they may have prostate cancer should contact their GP in the first instance. Prostate cancer is much easier to treat if it is caught early.”

Facts about prostate cancer

  • The Incidence rates for prostate cancer in the UK are highest in males aged 75 to 79 
  • One in eight men will get prostate cancer. If you’re over 50, or you’re black, or your dad or brother had it, you’re at even higher risk.
  • A person’s risk of developing cancer depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors). 
  • One in six UK males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. 
  • Prostate cancer is not clearly linked to any preventable risk factors 
  • Most men will die with the disease rather than from it.  

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