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As the most common cancer in British men – pointed out by Cancer Research UK – it could affect somebody you hold dear. Raising awareness about the disease is the Prostate Cancer Free Foundation.
The charity urges people who experience any of the symptoms, listed below, to be tested for prostate cancer.
A possible sign of advanced cancer is pain in the pelvis, hips, spine or upper legs.
There could be blood present in urine or semen, pain or discomfort during ejaculation, and difficulty arousing an erection.
Someone with advanced prostate cancer may experience a “weak urine stream”, which may make it difficult to start urinating.
Other urinary issues include stopping and starting during mid-flow, and frequent urination – especially at night.
A person with the disease may feel pain or a burning sensation when urinating.
Urinary problems, in particular may be associated with non-cancerous enlargement of the prostate – known as “benign prostatic hypertrophy” (BPH).
This is where prostate cancer screening can determine if you have the disease or a much less serious condition.
Unfortunately, the NHS confirmed: “There’s currently no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK.”
This “controversial subject in the international medical community” has arisen due to the “unreliable” nature of a PSA test.
Even though the PSA test “can find aggressive prostate cancer that needs treatment”, it can also identify “slow-growing cancer”.
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Slow-growing prostate cancer may never cause symptoms or shorten life, so a screening programme hasn’t been seen to be beneficial.
This is particularly due to the side effects early treatment can have on a person who may otherwise have led a life unaffected by the cancer.
In place of a national screening programme, there is an “an informed choice programme”.
Men, aged 50 or over, can ask their doctor about PSA testing, who’ll detail the pros and cons of the test.
Should you want to arrange a PSA test after discussing it with your doctor, it can be carried out for free by the NHS.
If the results reveal a raised level of PSA, your GP may suggest further tests.
What’s Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA)?
The Prostate Cancer Free Foundation explained PSA “is a protein created by the prostate and found in the blood”.
Normal levels of this protein vary between 0-2.5ng/ml, yet as a man ages – and the prostate naturally enlarges – PSA levels rise.
“Levels greater than 2.5ng/ml can have many different causes,” confirmed the charity.
These can range from prostate cancer, enlarged prostate, prostate inflammation, infection or trauma.
A clinician may conduct a rectal exam, whereby gloved and lubricated fingers are inserted into the bottom.
This is to examine the posterior of the prostate for any irregularities, which will need to be investigated further.
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