It’s a scene often replayed across the nation: a man moaning he doesn’t feel well, a woman nagging him to go to the doctors, and the man vaguely shrugging: “he might go later”, with clearly no intention of going at all.
Sometimes this doesn’t matter, and the man flu quickly passes. But sometimes, it matters a lot.
Take Prostate Cancer. An early diagnosis would give a man a 90% chance of surviving more than ten years. A late diagnosis, when it’s already spread to stage four, mean a mere 30% chance that you’ll live for more than five.
And Hollywood actor Ben Stiller echoes that. He revealed recently that he was diagnosed with a tumour in 2014 but thanks to an early test, overcame prostate cancer and is now cancer-free.
What you need to know about prostate cancer
To help them on that way, it’s critical that everyone knows the symptoms and the risk factors of a disease that is predicted to be the most common form of cancer by 2030.
Prostate cancer symptoms
Early symptoms of the disease include (though remember these symptoms can often be a sign of non-cancerous prostate conditions):
• Needing to urinate 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 urinating
• Weak flow
• Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
• Pain when passing urine
• Blood in the urine or semen
Later stage symptoms might include:
• Pain in your back, hips and pelvis
• Weight loss, particularly in elderly men
• Difficulty getting an erection
As with most cancers, a poor diet can increase your risk of prostate cancer. Experts say you should limit dairy and calcium (more than 2000mg of calcium a day might increase your risk, this is equal to 1.6 litres of milk); processed and red meat (limit red meat to 300g cooked meat a week; very well-done or burnt meat (it produces chemicals that can damage normal cells and cause cancer); saturated fat; alcohol (keep within government recommendations); some dietary supplements (high doses of Vitamin E supplements have been linked to a higher risk of prostate cancer).
Conversely, soy food and pulses, green tea, tomatoes and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, pak choi, spinach and kale) have all been found to help reduce the risk
You are two and a half times more likely to get prostate cancer if your father or brother has been diagnosed with it, compared to a man who has no relatives with prostate cancer, and you may have a higher chance of getting prostate cancer if your relative was under 60 when they were diagnosed with prostate cancer, or if you have more than one first degree relative (father or brother) with prostate cancer.
Experts also suggest you may have a higher risk if your mother or sister has had breast cancer linked to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, particularly if they were diagnosed under the age of 60.
Black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than men of other ethnic backgrounds. In the UK, about one in four black men will get prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
Prostate cancer mainly affects men over the age of 50 and your risk increases with age. The average age for men to be diagnosed with prostate cancer is between 70 and 74 years. If you are under 50 then your risk of getting prostate cancer is very low. Younger men can be affected, but this is rare.
Lack of exercise
Again, a prime culprit, lack of physical activity will leave you more vulnerable to prostate cancer. Experts say you need to aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week - enough to get out of breath, such as brisk walking, cycling or swimming. Or you could do 75 minutes of vigorous exercise a week, such as running, tennis or football.
For more information, visit the Prostate Cancer website.