Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK today. As such, it’s important to keep spreading the message about the disease, its symptoms and what can be done to treat it.
Every year, almost 50,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer, the most common cancer amongst men and the most second diagnosed after breast cancer. While survival rates have increased by almost 20% over the past 50 years, there are still over 10,000 annual deaths attributable to prostate cancer in the UK between 2015 and 2017.
To raise awareness over this very prominent and wide-reaching disease, Prostate Cancer UK – the nation’s leading prostate cancer charity – has designated every March as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. As well as continuing to put a profile on prostate cancer and its signs and symptoms, it’s also an important way for the charity to raise funds to support sufferers and their loved ones. In recognition of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Better Healthcare Services want to provide you with some need-to-know information about the disease.
Prostate cancer explained
The prostate itself is a small gland that is found in men and people who were assigned male at birth (AMAB). It surrounds the urethra – the tube that helps guide urine out of the bladder – and is located between the area of the penis and the bladder. The prostate plays a vital role in the creation of semen, as it produces the fluid that carries the sperm produced in the testicles.
Prostate cancer generally starts to show when the prostate gets large enough that it starts to affect the urethra. Common signs of the disease include finding it difficult to pee, an increased need to pee (especially at night) and feeling as if your bladder has not properly emptied or that you need to rush to the toilet suddenly. However, some of these signs can also indicate other issues that are separate from prostate cancer, such as prostate enlargement
If you have noticed any of these signs, it’s important to talk to your GP so they can begin the process of diagnosing what condition you are experiencing.
Additionally, while it’s almost exclusively a men’s health issue, it is important to note that there are women who can be affected by prostate cancer, such as trans women and people who were assigned male at birth (AMAB) who now live as women or as non-binary. It can also affect some people who are intersex. Transgender men, and people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB) but no longer identify as female, are not affected.
Risk factors of prostate cancer
The majority of risk factors that are associated with prostate cancer are mostly inherent. That’s because prostate cancer diagnosis is most often associated with those aged above 50. It rarely affects younger people. If you’ve had family members with prostate cancer, you may be at a higher risk. Additionally, it seems that men recorded as ‘black African’, ‘black Caribbean’ and ‘black other’ are at a higher risk than other ethnicities. Additionally, risk factors associated with other cancers – such as being overweight – are also linked to prostate cancer.
How prostate cancer is treated
There are a variety of treatments for prostate cancer and the approach to treating prostate cancer or to not treat it, can vary depending on the affected individual. The approach to cure and control the disease is usually the preferred option; however, if the cancer has spread, the aim is to delay further symptoms and prolong the person’s life.
Hormone therapy medication is used to help control the prostate cancer and this is often the initial approach to prostate cancer in its early stages. If it progresses, many who are living with prostate cancer will either receive radiotherapy, brachytherapy, high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU), cryotherapy or chemotherapy. If the cancer hasn’t spread, the prostate gland can be removed via surgery. You can learn about prostate removal in our post ‘What to expect after prostate cancer surgery’.
The Big Half and other charity events
As March is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Prostate Cancer UK has a big presence during The Big Half marathon in London on 01 March. Men United is a movement within Prostate Cancer UK that fights for prostate cancer awareness through fundraising events. The money raised goes to funding research into more effective methods to diagnose, treat and cure prostate cancer. It also goes to providing support for those affected. The movement represents Prostate Cancer UK during The Big Half and helps raise money for the charity.
There are also other events you can get involved in during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, such as the Cambridge Half Marathon (8 March), the Bath Half Marathon (15 March) and the London Landmarks Half Marathon (29 March). If you’d like to get involved, you can visit here to find information on these events, and others throughout the year, that can help support the charity.
Better Healthcare supports Prostate Cancer Awareness Month
Here at Better Healthcare Services, we are staunch supports of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. As we help support those with prostate cancer, as well as their families, we know how difficult and draining it can be to fight the disease.
If you are struggling with the effects of having had prostate cancer surgery, or are finding that living with prostate cancer is making it difficult to do day-to-day tasks, Better Healthcare is here to provide a compassionate care service tailored to your needs – allowing you to continue living with independence in your own home.
If you’d like to find out more about our carers and our services, whether for yourself or on behalf of a family member, please give Better Healthcare a call on 0800 668 1234 or get in touch with the closest regional office today.