Prostate Cancer UK has analysed data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and is horrified by its findings. “The number of men dying from prostate cancer in the UK has exceeded 12,000 in one year for the first time ever,” the research charity reports. “This is unacceptable.”
There were 12,031 deaths from the disease in 2017 – the most recent figures available – up from 11,637 the year before and 11,307 in 2014.
The likelihood for this increase is most probably due to an ageing population, which means more men are being diagnosed with the disease.
One main barrier to curbing the number of deaths from prostate cancer is late diagnosis, according to Prostate Cancer UK.
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The NHS lists possible symptoms of prostate cancer:
- Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
- Straining or taking a long time while peeing
- Weak flow
- Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- Blood in urine or blood in semen
Most prostate cancers do not produce any symptoms if the cancer is contained inside the prostate – a small walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder.
When a cancer is contained inside the prostate it’s called localised prostate cancer or early prostate cancer, and means the cancer is growing slowly.
It’s only when the cancer is growing at a greater speed, or is spreading, that symptoms typically occur.
When the cancer grows big enough, it can press on the urethra (the tube that urine passes through the body) and can create urinary problems.
These can be mild and happen over many years.
Although urinary troubles can be a warning sign of prostate cancer, it can also signify a very common non-cancerous problem called an enlarged prostate.
Regardless, it’s still a good idea to get any symptoms checked out by a doctor.
Signs that the cancer may have spread include bone and back pain, a loss of appetite, pain in the testicles and unexplained weight loss.
The sooner any type of cancer is diagnosed, the quicker treatment can begin and the chances of survival increases.
A man diagnosed this year has a much better chance of survival than a man diagnosed a decade ago.
But there is currently no national health screening for the deadly disease.
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If you’re concerned, the doctor will likely take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen – also known as PSA testing.
Prostate Cancer UK are currently working with experts to identify the best route to screening.
“We need a UK-wide screening programme where men are invited for testing, like women are for breast cancer,” the charity remarks.
Their mission is to “make screening a reality and save many more men”.
Risk factors include those over the age of 50 and people with a family history of the disease.
Cancer Research UK report that one in six UK males will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
It’s currently the most common cancer for men and diagnosis of the disease is set to double by 2030.
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