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Let's talk prostate
Published on 06 March 2017 by Farooq Khan, updated on 02 May 2017
What is the prostate gland?
The prostate is a walnut sized gland that sits underneath the bladder in all men. The main function of the prostate is to secrete ejaculation fluid and as men get older this function recedes. In many men as they get older the prostate enlarges (in a non-cancerous manner) and can cause urinary symptoms that can be troublesome and in some may develop cancerous changes that may require investigation and treatment.
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men with over 47,000 cases diagnosed in the UK with close to 11,000 deaths a year. 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with the disease during their lifetime. Prostate cancer is a disease of the ageing male in essence - meaning that as men get older a diagnosis of cancer is more likely. However, not all men diagnosed later in life need treating but certainly younger men will need treatment (men less than 70 years of age) if a significant cancer is detected.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Most men nowadays may not have any symptoms at all from prostate cancer but often may complain of urinary symptoms such as a reduced urinary flow, waking at night and frequency of urination that prompts a visit to the GP that allows a simple blood test and a prostate examination take place that may detect any cancer at an early stage. In more advanced cases, which is uncommon nowadays, patients may present with back pain or a general weakness that on investigation may discover prostate cancer.
Why is early diagnosis important?
Early diagnosis is important as the earlier the disease is detected the more likely a complete cure can be offered, especially in younger men who are relatively fit and healthy. Importantly, detection in this group of men is valuable as the various treatments now available for prostate cancer do offer the opportunity to increase survival from prostate cancer.
How is prostate cancer detected by doctors?
A simple blood test is available called the PSA - Prostate Specific Antigen - which along with an examination of the prostate can help detect prostate cancer. Whilst the blood test has limitations, in the correct setting and along with a scan of the prostate called an MRI scan which is all offered here at One Stop Doctors, it can help the urologist guide the decision regarding the need for a biopsy of the prostate. A biopsy is a simple way to detect cancer, if present, or to provide peace of mind that there is no cancer present.
What should i do if i am worried that i may be at risk of prostate cancer?
The first thing to do is to see your GP and ask for a PSA blood test and examination of the prostate, even if you have no symptoms. If the PSA is raised and the examination of the prostate raises concern a referral to a urologist is highly recommended.
If you have any concerns, book an appointment with our Consultant Urologist Farooq Khan or one of our experienced GPs.