In the first of our blogs for Men's Health Awareness Month, Anna Brothers discusses prostate cancer.
Happy Movember! The time of the tache and Men's Health awareness month! Many of us can raise a glass to a successful sober October and ordinarily we should be feeling virtuous and match fit for the stagger through the party season to Christmas.
Except of course it's 2020 and we are in a global pandemic, online and on screens - 'shielding', 'cocooning' and abiding by the "rule of six" coping with the 'new normal'.
But here we are, it is what it is.........all in it together.
However, part of "what it is" is a very worrying and isolating time for people with concerns about their health that are not coronavirus related. There is also that underlying sense of not wanting to bother anyone, especially not your GP at this time.
Yet if you are worried about your health, and if you are experiencing niggling urinary and sexual health symptoms, please speak up - contact your GP and get checked out.
Prostate health is no less important because there is a pandemic. With one in 89 men developing prostate cancer in their lifetime, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK and you are particularly at risk if you are:
- aged 50 or over
- a member of your immediate family has had prostate cancer
- you are black.
As one of our medical negligence solicitors, I recently settled two clinical negligence claims for men who have suffered because of delay in diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. Both men received damages awards of around £70,000.
Although every clinical negligence case is different, the outcomes due to delay in diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer were similar in both cases in that both men that suffered unnecessary and protracted treatment. Their avoidable injuries, affecting their urinary and sexual function and mental health, persist and affect the quality of their lives.
Sadly, Leigh Day deals with many of these types of cases involving delays in diagnosis of cancer.
However, most cancers if caught early, and in particular prostate cancer, are very treatable.
With prostate cancer there is the added difficulty that early symptoms can be very subtle as the warning signs don't really emerge until the prostate becomes large enough to affect the tube which carries urine out of the bladder and penis.
The insidious nature of this disease means that symptoms can be easily ignored, but knowledge is key. Learn about your prostate, what it is and what it does.
DON'T ignore symptoms:
- Burning or pain during urination.
- Difficulty urinating, or trouble starting and stopping while urinating.
- More frequent urges to urinate at night.
- Loss of bladder control.
- Decreased flow or velocity of urine stream.
- Blood in urine (haematuria)
- Blood in semen.
DO keep active and healthy:
- A low-fat diet and regular exercise can cut your risk of prostate cancer, as well as heart disease.
- DO consider your family history.
- Be sure to inform your GP if one or more of your relatives had prostate cancer. Particularly a close relative, such as your brother or your father.
DO get informed:
Men over 50 can ask for a PSA blood test from their GP even if you don't have symptoms. The PSA blood test has had some bad press as your PSA level can also be raised by other, non-cancerous conditions. But it is still the best test we have available to corroborate clinical signs which may be suggestive of cancer and get you access to treatment which could make all the difference.
Start your online search with: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/prostate-cancer/should-i-have-psa-test/
DO not be afraid:
The majority of cancers very amenable to treatment and cure. Treating prostate cancer these days is compatible with retaining sexual and urinary function. The latest surgical techniques decrease the risk of side effects and even with side effects, there are now medications and procedures that can address these in the majority of patients.
Dr Greg Warner, the GP expert who assisted me with my cases endorses the advice above and adds that if you have a PSA test done, to make sure you find out what the result is and understand what it means. And if it needs a follow up, make sure you get it done.
I am pleased to have achieved these settlements for my clients, but this didn't have to happen to them or to their families.
Early diagnosis is the route to effective treatment and you can do this by speaking up for your health.
If you believe that you have suffered due to a late diagnosis of cancer. We will listen to your story. We will try to find out what has happened to you and if something went wrong and we will try our very best to prove it and to win compensation for you.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.