By Bunmi Sofola
Just as the breast cancer alert has become a sort of mantra for women all over the world, so should the call for the awareness of prostate cancer—a disease that’s often overlooked but affects thousands of over 50s every year.
The prostate gland: According to a recent campaign against prostate cancer, it is a gland located at the base of the bladder. It produces the fluid that makes up semen. The tube that carries urine from the bladder passes through the gland.
What can go wrong?: The prostate gland can become inflamed or infected. It’s quite usual for it to grow as a man gets older and this can cause symptoms. But many of these symptoms can be caused by cancer too and it’s important that this more sinister cause of problems is identified and treated early.
The symptoms: Because the tube carrying urine from the bladder passes through the prostate gland, urine flow is often affected by the gland getting bigger. Symptoms to watch out for are needing to urinate frequently, particularly at night, a poor urine stream and difficulty starting to pee.
Often the bladder doesn’t empty properly, so when you think you’ve finished, a small amount of urine still comes out. Less often, men will get pain ejaculating or pain passing urine.
Diagnosis: Many of the symptoms can be caused by a harmless enlargement of the prostate, but if you see your doctor, they will be able to examine you and do a blood test that will help see if your problems are due to cancer. They may also suggest an ultrasound scan of the prostate gland.
Can it be treated?: Prostate cancer can be treated and there are many options from watching and waiting for surgery and chemotherapy. The sooner cancer is discovered, the more treatment options are available. So don’t sit on your problems, visit your doctor if you’re worried. For more information, go to www, prostate-cancer.org.uk.