Movember aims to raise awareness of the key health issues impacting men, helping them to identify symptoms and get diagnosed whilst their conditions are still treatable.
One of the main focuses is prostate cancer, which is the most diagnosed form of cancer amongst men in the UK. One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Here, Dr Rhianna McClymont, lead GP at the digital healthcare provider, Livi, reveals some of the key facts about the disease, including the main warning signs and what to do about them.
Who’s at risk?
The prostate is an organ that only men have, and its main function is to produce the white fluid which mixes with sperm to create semen.
Dr Rhianna said: “Although prostate cancer can affect men of any age, it’s most commonly diagnosed in older age groups, particularly over 50s.
“Research has also found that men of an African, or African-Caribbean descent are also more at risk from the cancer compared to men from other ethnicities.”
What can increase the risk of prostate cancer?
Dr Rhianna said: “There are various factors that can increase the risk of developing prostate cancer, including family history. The risk increases if a male member of your family developed prostate cancer before the age of 60.
“Another factor which can increase the risk is obesity, with NHS information suggesting that obesity may be linked to an increased likelihood of the development of prostate cancer.”
What are the symptoms?
Dr Rhianna said: “Unfortunately, prostate cancer can often be symptomless, which is why it’s so important to have your prostate checked regularly as you get older.”
When symptoms do appear, particularly as the illness becomes more advanced, they can include:
Increased frequency in needing to urinate
Difficulty when starting to pee, or a weak flow
Feeling like your bladder hasn’t fully emptied
Feeling an urgent need to urinate
How is it tested?
Dr Rhianna said: “If you notice you have any symptoms related to prostate cancer, you might be offered a PSA, or Prostate Specific Antigen test. This is taken as a blood test and can indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
“Your GP will also suggest an examination of your prostate, which is undertaken through a rectal exam.
“If either or both of these tests indicate the possible presence of prostate cancer, then you will undertake an MRI scan to assess the prostate, and a biopsy will be used to officially diagnose the condition.”
What are the treatment options?
Dr Rhianna said: “Treatment of prostate cancer depends largely on the severity of the condition, and how far advanced it is, as well as other factors including whether it has spread to other areas of your body, and your general health.
“Treatment options are varied and include surgery to remove the prostate (a prostatectomy), radiotherapy, hormone therapy, or ‘watchful waiting’, where the cancer is considered to be relatively minor, and poses little threat of spreading, or developing further within the patient’s lifetime, so is left untreated but closely monitored.”
Dr Rhianna adds: “Movember has done a fantastic job of raising awareness of male-specific health conditions such as prostate cancer, and thankfully so, as it’s incredibly common, but often treatable if caught early enough.
“The good news is that whilst the condition is common amongst men and potentially very serious, most patients diagnosed with it do survive. This is why it’s so important for men to be aware of the signs and symptoms and understand the need to be checked as they get older.”
For more information about prostate cancer, visit: https://www.livi.co.uk/your-health/prostate-cancer-a-doctors-guide/