The Importance of Prostate Cancer Screening
Recent headlines inform us that one man dies every 45 minutes from prostate cancer and the number of men dying from prostate cancer has now overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK.
Whilst a lot of this can be attributed to an ever aging population, with people now living longer than ever, Prostate Cancer UK believe that increased funding into research could benefit the male population. Unfortunately prostate cancer receives only half of the amount of funding that is ploughed into breast cancer research. Increased funding is essential to develop better diagnostic testing because at present there is no one single reliable test for prostate cancer. Unfortunately, as this type of cancer is slow growing men can go for years without knowing they have the disease as they are symptom free, possibly until it is too late.
Prostate cancer is now the 3rd biggest cancer killer in the UK, with lung and bowel cancers topping the list.
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis of men, roughly the size of a walnut. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men and makes up 26% of all male cancer diagnoses in the UK. In 2008, 34,335 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer and there were 9376 deaths from prostate cancer in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This figure increased to 9632 deaths in 2010.
Prostate cancer is predominantly a disease of older men (aged 65–79 years) but around 25% of cases occur in men younger than 65. There is also higher incidence of and mortality from prostate cancer in men of black African-Caribbean family origin compared with white Caucasian men.
The NICE Guidelines provide guidance to GP’s on when a referral for suspected prostate cancer is mandatory under the so called ‘2 week wait’ rule, as follows:
Refer men using a suspected cancer pathway referral (for an appointment within 2 weeks) for prostate cancer if their prostate feels malignant on digital rectal examination.
Consider a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and digital rectal examination to assess for prostate cancer in men with:
Refer men using a suspected cancer pathway referral (for an appointment within 2 weeks) for prostate cancer if their PSA levels are above the age specific reference range.
It is important to make an appointment with your GP if you suffer from any of the problems listed below;
These can often be the first signs and symptoms of a problem, and as with any cancer diagnosis earlier diagnosis and treatment can often lead to an improved prognosis.
Here at Wolferstans we often meet clients whose diagnosis has been delayed and whose prognosis is therefore negatively impacted. This can sometimes be as a result of a failure of medical staff to notice those crucial first signs and symptoms of the onset of the disease, and thus make an appropriate referral.
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