This month is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
For men, prostate cancer is the most common form in the UK.
- More than 52,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year on average – that’s 143 men every day.
- Every 45 minutes one man dies from prostate cancer – that’s more than 12,000 men every year.
- 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
- Around 475,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer.
There is no national screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK.
Instead of a national screening programme, there is an informed choice programme, called “The prostate cancer risk management programme”, for healthy men aged 50 or over who ask their GP about PSA testing. PSA testing should also be considered for those aged under 50 who are at an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Patient self-referral is the only way that the number of prostate cancer-related deaths will fall, which means it is vital that men reaching middle age pay attention to their bodies and have the confidence to seek advice from their doctor.
What is Prostate Cancer?
The prostate is a gland in the male body which sits underneath the bladder and surrounds the urethra, which is the tube that carries urine out of the body. The prostate’s main job is to help make semen. Prostate cancer occurs when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way, resulting in a tumour.
In many cases, the tumour grows slowly and may never cause any life-threatening problems or require any treatment. However, some prostate cancers grows quickly and are more likely to spread. When this happens, treatment is required to stop it spreading.
As with any cancer, the important thing is to get a diagnosis as soon as possible.
Who is at risk?
The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. There are three main factors which can increase your risk of developing prostate cancer.
- Getting older – It mainly affects men aged 50 or over.
- Having a family history of prostate cancer, breast cancer or ovarian cancer.
- Being black. For reasons not yet understood, prostate cancer is more common in black men and less common in Asian men.
If you would like to check your risk, head over to Prostate Cancer UK where you can assess your risk by answering 3 simple questions.
Trans women and non-binary people assigned male at birth have a prostate and can get prostate cancer.
What are the Signs and Symptoms?
Symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra). That’s why awareness of prostate cancer and the risk factors is key.
The signs and symptoms commonly associated with prostate cancer include:
- a need to urinate frequently, especially at night
- difficulty starting urination or holding back urine
- weak or interrupted flow of urine (straining while you urinate)
- a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
- painful or burning urination
- difficulty in having an erection
- painful ejaculation
- blood in urine or semen
- frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Despite the disease being the most common cancer in men in the UK, awareness of signs and symptoms that might indicate cancer is still lacking across the population.
How do you test for prostate cancer?
There is no single test for prostate cancer but there are several tests which can be used to diagnose the condition.
The most commonly used tests are:
- Blood test – called a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test
- A physical examination of your prostate
- An MRI scan
- A Biopsy
What if there is a delay in diagnosing and treating prostate cancer?
Unfortunately, there are occasions when a diagnosis of prostate cancer is missed or delayed. In these circumstances the patient may suffer harm because of the lack of timely treatment. If this can be proved it may be possible to make a medical negligence claim.
You may be able to pursue a medical negligence claim if you have attended the GP repeatedly complaining of persistent or worsening symptoms which should have been investigated further. Negligence can also occur when medical professionals misinterpret test results, or when test results are lost and there are delays in obtaining new samples.
Any serious illness can be life-changing and a delayed or missed diagnosis and treatment of cancer is no different. While finances may not be your first thought it is important that where clinical negligence has caused injury you and your family are appropriately compensated.
Ison Harrison’s team of specialist clinical negligence solicitors can help you secure the compensation that you deserve. Contact the team for compassionate and confidential legal advice, either by phone on 0113 284 5000 or email via email@example.com