THOUSANDS of men are dying from prostate cancer every year because it’s spotted too late, a charity has warned.
New figures show that more than 40 per cent of diagnoses are made in the stages 3 or 4 despite being the most common cancer in Brit blokes.
Caught an earlier stage increases the chances of beating it – which is why it’s vital to know the early warning signs.
Yet a new survey, commissioned by men’s cancer charity Orchid, has revealed that awareness of the risk factors amongst GPs is worryingly low.
Only five per cent named ethnicity as a primary risk factor, despite black African and black Caribbean men being twice as likely to develop the disease.
Prostate cancer is more common in those aged over 50, while people with a family history are at twice the risk.
Men are not confident in recognising the symptoms of prostate cancer so the GP-patient interface is essential to reverse the continued increase in late stage diagnosis
However, the research also revealed that less than half of all GPs surveyed recognised that.
Meanwhile 15 per cent mistakenly thought that infections such as HPV were a primary risk factor for prostate cancer.
Rebecca Porta, Orchid’s chief executive, is calling on GPs to consider prostate cancer risk even before men present with symptoms.
She said: “We know from previous research that 60 per cent of men are not confident in recognising the symptoms of prostate cancer and 31 per cent have no knowledge of the disease, so the GP-patient interface is essential to reverse the continued increase in late stage diagnosis.
“Whilst we appreciate that GP time is limited, we urge them to incorporate a prostate cancer awareness discussion into every consultation with at-risk men”.
The early warning signs
Late diagnosis can reduce chances of survival, limit treatment options or result in more invasive interventions.
So, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
The difficulty is most men with early prostate cancer don’t have any signs or symptoms, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
One reason for this is the way the cancer grows – you usually only get early symptoms if the cancer grows near the urethra and presses against it, changing the way you urinate.
If you do notice changes in the way you urinate, this is more likely to be a sign of a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate, or another health problem.
But it’s still a good idea to get it checked out.
Other signs to look out for include:
- 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
If prostate cancer breaks out of the prostate or spreads to other parts of the body, it can cause other symptoms, including:
- back pain, hip pain or pelvis pain
- problems getting or keeping an erection
- blood in the urine or semen
- unexplained weight loss
These symptoms can all be caused by other health problems, but it’s still a good idea to tell your GP about any symptoms so they can find out what’s causing them and make sure you get the right treatment, if you need it.
MORE ON PROSTATE CANCER
It’s also useful to know the key risk factors – Orchid’s F.A.C.E. up to prostate cancer campaign is aimed at helping people remember…
Family history – having a brother or father with prostate cancer may double a man’s risk compared to men with no family history of the disease.
Age – the older a man gets the greater the risk, with prostate cancer most commonly affecting men over the age of 50.
Change in urinary habits – changes in urinary habits are not always a sign of prostate cancer but they can be a symptom.
Ethnicity – black African and black Caribbean men are at double the risk of developing prostate cancer than other men and may develop the disease earlier too, most commonly affecting men from this group over 45.
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