What every couple should know about prostate cancer…

What every couple should know about prostate cancer…

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, and arguably the most intimate too, which can cause many men to feel embarrassed when it comes to discussing their symptoms or treatment options with a specialist. Indeed, it can be all too easy to dismiss potential symptoms of prostate cancer as “just part of getting older”. Yet with diagnoses on the rise - and treatment options available that can suit even the most active of lifestyles - it’s more important than ever that men feel confident in discussing any health concerns they might have.

Here are some important things every couple should know about prostate cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men. The average age for a man to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is about 66. Different people have different symptoms for prostate cancer. Some men do not have symptoms at all, especially in the early stages. However, some symptoms of prostate cancer are:

  • Difficulty starting urination

  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine

  • The need to urinate more often, especially at night

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder completely

  • Pain or burning during urination

  • Loss of bladder control

  • Blood in the urine or semen

  • Pain in the back, hips, chest (ribs) or pelvis that doesn’t go away

  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet

  • Difficulty getting an erection (erectile dysfunction)

  • Painful ejaculation

Particularly in the current climate, with governmental concerns over cancer diagnoses being missed, any man with any worries really should go and see his GP.

The Prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is a commonly used test to screen for prostate cancer. It is also available free to any well man, aged 50 and over who requests it. The PSA test is a quick and simple blood test that measures the level of the antigen in the blood.

As a rule, the higher the PSA level in the blood, the more likely a prostate problem is present. But many factors, such as age and race, can affect PSA levels. Some prostate glands also simply make more PSA than others. While the PSA test is not perfect, most cases of early prostate cancer are found following a PSA blood test. It can therefore also be helpful to establish a baseline PSA, to monitor variation over time.

Diagnosis & Treatment

If the PSA test is abnormal, doctors may do more tests to find or diagnose prostate cancer. These may include a transrectal ultrasound, an MRI scan and / or a biopsy. Again, it’s important that you understand that you have options.