September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the most common cancer among Australian men. Do you know the signs and symptoms to be aware of?
Middle-aged men are notorious for not visiting the doctor until they are either so sick they can’t avoid it, or they are dragged there by their partner. Prostate problems are a common men’s health issue that often goes unnoticed, either because it doesn’t cause any symptoms, or because the affected chap prefers to soldier on and ‘tough it out.’
Prostate problems generally occur in men over 50, though not always. The prostate gland sits around the urethra, which is the tube from the bladder to the outside world, like a plum with a straw through the middle. As men get older the gland enlarges which narrows the diameter of the tube running through it. This causes difficulty in passing urine and more frequent trips to the toilet. Most of this enlargement of the prostate is non-cancerous, but with increasing age the risk of prostate cancer also rises, and this may occur without any symptoms.
The facts on Prostate Cancer
Prostate cancer is a lump of tissue that occurs when some of the cells of the prostate grow abnormally. There are over 17,000 new cases of prostate cancer in Australian men every year*. Although early prostate cancer rarely causes symptoms, there are a few to look out for including pain in the lower back or pelvic area, unexplained weight loss and feeling a frequent or sudden need to urinate. Your risk of prostate cancer also increases when a family member has had prostate cancer, or you are aged 60-79.
There is a blood test available, which can be of some use in assessing the risk of prostate cancer. This test can be done in conjunction with an examination of the prostate (briefly uncomfortable, but important!) to help assess the risk of an underlying cancer. If you have any of the above symptoms, or have a family history of prostate cancer – especially before the age of 60 – you should discuss this with your doctor.
At Mingara Medical our GP’s have a strong focus on disease prevention, and treatment is often much easier if a diagnosis is made early. It is wise to occasionally speak to your doctor about appropriate screening, even if you are generally in good health. Give us a call on (02) 4302 3333 to book an appointment.
*Cancer Council NSW