World Cancer Day: Men Must Act Now
Uniting the globe in the fight against cancer, World Cancer Day takes place on the 4th of February 2021, aiming to raise awareness and educate the public about the disease. Around 4 in 10 UK cancer cases every year could be prevented, which is why it’s so important to encourage its detection, treatment and take action to help save millions of lives.
Taking place under the campaign tagline ‘I Am and I Will,’ this year is a reminder of the enduring power of collective co-operation, especially in the present challenging times. By spotting any signs or symptoms and getting checked, an early diagnosis can help to not only increase survival rates, but also offer a more varied choice of treatments and patient pathways.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men within the United Kingdom, affecting nearly 50,000 men a year. A lot of the time, many men go undiagnosed, particularly within the early stages of prostate cancer as they don’t experience signs or symptoms, which is why raising awareness of the possible symptoms is vital. These include a weak flow when urinating, loss of bladder control, erectile dysfunction and pain in the back, hips, ribs or pelvis. Men who have any of these symptoms must be encouraged to go to their GP and initially get a PSA test.
In many cases, men who are then referred for suspected prostate cancer can have a key step in the process – the prostate biopsy – done in a convenient safer outpatient setting under local anaesthetic (LA TP), which is a far safer environment and technique than traditional TRUS (transrectal needle) biopsies. This technique is far less invasive, with lower rates of infection and sepsis. And crucially, doesn’t require hospitalisation, which is so important for both personal safeguarding and to maximise precious acute NHS resources.
If caught early, prostate cancer can be easy to treat, with effective and minimally invasive pathways available to patients. There are many treatment options available, especially when it is diagnosed in the less aggressive stages, including Low Dose Rate (LDR) brachytherapy, which is a form of radiation that delivers treatment to a targeted area using small radioactive seeds, which are inserted permanently into the prostate gland. The procedure is quick, with many patients being sent home the next day. Additionally, the treatment has a low complication rate due to being minimally invasive, with significant quality of life benefits over alternative options, such as radical prostatectomy, or removal of the prostate. Again, knowing what your diagnosis is at an early stage allows for treatment to be planned well in advance, in the assurance that personal health and safety and NHS resource is paramount.
By having awareness and education of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, men must act on them as they present themselves. Prostate cancer won’t wait for the pandemic to end. But with the right insight, as well as screening options and available treatments, the cancer can be treated and men will be able to live a long and happy life. Taking action over potential warning signs is the first vital step. Now is the time for any man who fears they might be displaying symptoms of potential prostate cancer to step forward, rather than be delayed.