Movember is in full swing, and while you might notice a few more beards and moustaches around town, have you stopped to think about the causes it’s supporting?
Movember is all about men’s health, and in particular prostate cancer. 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer at one point in their lives – it’s the most common cancer in men living in the UK.
It can be unsettling to think a friend, family member or colleague could eventually be diagnosed, but the good news is that when detected early the outlook is good; 8 in 10 men live beyond five years after diagnosis, and more men die with it than from it.
That’s thanks in large part to better screening and treatment processes – today we’re better at identifying who might be at risk and monitoring changes as time goes on.
Awareness goes a long way, and initiatives like Movember and the Prostate Cancer Risk Management Programme have helped people become more informed and proactive about their prostate.
Who is at risk
The strongest risk factor for those with prostate cancer is age – it’s very low risk for men under the age of 50 but increases with age thereafter. Ethnicity is another factor; black men have a higher risk of prostate cancer than white or Asian men.
Family history is another important factor worth considering. Around 5–9% of prostate cancers are linked to genes and family history, and you’re 2.5 times more likely to get prostate cancer if you have an immediate family member – your father or brother – who has also had prostate cancer.
How to recognise symptoms
Typically prostate cancer doesn’t have any discerning symptoms until it has grown large enough to put pressure on the urethra. Once this occurs, it can result in:
- Needing to urinate more frequently, often during the night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to urinate or pee (hesitancy)
- Straining or taking a long time while urinating
- Weak flow
- Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
If you have any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see your GP. They do not mean you definitely have prostate cancer; many men’s prostates get larger as they age as a result of a non-cancerous condition called prostate enlargement or benign prostatic hyperplasia, which may cause similar symptoms.
When to get checked
There is currently no national organised screening programme in place in the UK for prostate cancer. Right now, there is no screening process reliable enough to identify or eliminate prostate cancer right away.
Instead, doctors work on an individual basis to carry out rectal exams and PSA screenings in the early stages, and then more thorough tests like a biopsy or trans-rectal ultrasound scan.
Discussing your prostate with your GP should be a routine part of your annual check up as you age. If you’re at risk your GP may decide to proceed with an examination. Without the presence of any symptoms, it’s more likely prostate cancer will be something to be informed about and aware of should anything change.
If you want to learn more about prostate cancer, there are some excellent resources online that can help you understand more about the disease in general. If you have any specific concerns, it’s always best to visit your GP and speak to them directly.
Some online resources include:
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