Needing to pee more, feeling you haven’t emptied your bladder and straining to start your flow – these are among the main warning signs that you might have prostate cancer. The disease is the most common male cancer and affects one in eight men during their lifetime.
Recent figures show there are around 48,000 diagnoses in the UK every year – that’s around 129 every day according to the charity Prostate Cancer UK. But detecting issues as early as possible can go a long way to ensuring positive outcomes and experts are advising men, particularly those over 40, to be aware of any changes in their toilet habits to give themselves the best chance.
Leading urologist Petr Holy, of Men’s Health Clinic in Kingston, insists this can provide a potentially life-saving early warning that there could be something wrong. He said: “While changes in toilet habits can sometimes be a temporary issue caused by factors such as diet and lifestyle, they can also be one of the first signs of a prostate problem.
“An urgent need to wee, more frequent trips to the toilet, a slow or interrupted flow and a feeling of still needing to urinate even when you have finished are among the most common red flags. It’s vital for men to be on alert for any of these changes and seek advice from an expert if it becomes a pattern.
“Prostate cancer can be treated effectively if detected early enough and an early diagnosis often leads to a better outcome.”
According to the NHS website: “Prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms until the cancer has grown large enough to put pressure on the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).”
This is when the warning signs start to show themselves, which should prompt rapid action by contacting your doctor. Prostate cancer can be difficult to detect in the early stages. One method is by taking a PSA test, which measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in the blood.
But while these straightforward tests, which can be carried out at your local surgery, are able to detect prostate cancer at a very early stage, they are not always accurate. Treatment options for prostate cancer include radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and surgery, also known as a radical prostatectomy where the entire prostate is removed.
An increasingly popular alternative is proton therapy, where a ‘pencil beam’ of positively-charged particles – travelling at 100,000 miles per hour – targets the area with pin-point accuracy. It is said to have a better chance of shrinking the tumour and unlike traditional radiotherapy, which passes X-rays all the way through the body, proton beam therapy particles stop at the tumour, therefore reducing collateral damage and secondary cancers.
Men’s Health Centre Kingston is a modern diagnostic and treatment centre based in Kingston, Surrey, with a particular emphasis on prostate cancer.