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by James Thomas, Thursday, November 16, 2017 | Categories: Mens Health

What Men Need to Know About Prostate Cancer

Since 2003, the Movember Foundation has spent the eleventh month of every year raising awareness for a variety of men’s health issues. In that time, over £400 million has been raised and gone into the funding of over 1,000 different projects looking into issues such as testicular cancer, mental health and prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK; around 40,000 new diagnoses are made every single year. Though the survival rate for prostate cancer is good (around 84% of men will survive for ten years or more), it’s still a huge health concern for British men. Diagnosis can often be delayed for many years, as symptoms do not always develop in the disease’s early stages, and those who survive can be affected by a number of unpleasant side effects.

In honour of Men’s Health Awareness Month, we’ve put together a guide to prostate cancer. If you’re concerned about your prostate health, or the prostate health of someone you love, read on.

The Causes of Prostate Cancer

No one precise cause for prostate cancer has been established, but there are some risk factors to be aware of. These include:

  • Age: the older you get, the more likely you are to develop prostate cancer (most cases occur in the over-50s)
  • Family history: having close family members who suffered from prostate cancer can be a risk factor
  • Ethnicity: if you are of Afro-Caribbean or African descent, you have an increased likelihood of developing prostate cancer
  • Lifestyle: if you are obese and/or you don’t exercise regularly you are more likely to develop prostate cancer

Lowering your Risk of Prostate Cancer

While you cannot alter your age, family history or ethnicity, knowing that you are high-risk for prostate cancer will typically help with early diagnosis (in the event that you develop the disease).

Men who are not of African descent and who have no family history of prostate cancer may want to speak to their GP about their risk once they hit 50. Men who are of African descent, or who have a family history of prostate cancer, should usually start to talk to a doctor about their risk a few years earlier – normally at around 45. Early diagnosis will usually make treatment easier and more successful.

To mitigate your risk you can also try practising a healthy lifestyle. Try to take regular exercise (the NHS recommends 2.5 hours of moderate exercise, or 75 minutes of more vigorous exercise a week, as well as strength exercises two days a week) and eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in saturated fat, sugar and salt.

Symptoms of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer doesn’t always cause symptoms in its early stages, but it’s still a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the indications of the disease. Symptoms can include:

  • Needing to urinate more frequently, particularly during the night
  • Difficulty in beginning to urinate, and maintaining urination
  • Weak flow of urine
  • Feeling that your bladder has not totally emptied when you have finished urinating

These symptoms do not necessarily point to cancer – many men experiencing trouble urinating as they get older, often as a result of benign enlargement of the prostate – but it's worth visiting a doctor.

When prostate cancer spreads it can cause other symptoms such as loss of appetite, testicular pain, unexplained weight loss, and pain in the back. Again, none of these symptoms is specific to prostate cancer, but you should visit your doctor if you are experiencing any of them.

Diagnosing and Living With Prostate Cancer

Diagnosing prostate cancer can be tricky, and normally involves a few different tests. You will usually have to give a urine sample, a blood sample, and have your prostate examined by the doctor.

Treatment will depend upon the nature of the cancer, and your age and general health. In some cases, living with prostate cancer will require the treatment of the disease’s side effects.

The good news is that our understanding of prostate cancer is improving all the time, and that there are many resources available to support men with the disease. Learn more by visiting Prostate Cancer UK or talking to your doctor.

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