How Men Get Prostate Cancer Early and Stop Adverse Side Effects

One in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime and more than 10,000 die from it every year in England. Yet it remains one of the most treatable cancers, provided it is caught early.

Much has been done to raise awareness of the disease, which mainly affects the over-50s, with high profile figures urging men to get tested. Bill Turnbull, the TV presenter who died of prostate cancer earlier this yearand actor and writer Stephen Fry, who was treated for the conditionadvocated for regular screening.

And for good reason – research suggests that treatment in the early stages has a nearly 100% five-year survival rate, compared to around 50% in stage four, when cancer cells have already spread through the body.

UK investment manager Nicola Horlick recently lost her husband Martin Baker, 64, to illness. She said Martin, a journalist and novelist, turned down the opportunity to have regular PSA (prostate-specific antigen) tests, which can be a warning sign that something is wrong. In his case, she said he didn’t want a diagnosis that could lead to complications. She wrote that he had no specific symptoms of the disease, and “was sure it was a waste of time, and if he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he could be left incontinent and helpless after treatment. He was adamant that he would rather die of cancer than suffer this fate.”

He’s not alone – many men remain reluctant to go for checkups, fearing possible complications after treatment. But are incontinence and impotence inevitable side effects?

Professor Roger Kirby, a retired prostate cancer surgeon and president of the Royal Society of Medicine, believes that’s certainly not always the case – and delayed diagnosis may in fact mean you’re more likely to suffer from these complications if you avoid regular check-ups. checkup. Symptoms of prostate problems include the need to urinate more frequently, weak flow, and feeling like your bladder doesn’t empty completely when you go.

“If you catch prostate cancer early, you can cure it completely. If you diagnose it later, when it has already spread, although you can delay mortality for several years, the patient may have to endure all sorts of sequential treatments: surgery, radiotherapy, hormonal treatment and chemotherapy in order to control the cancer. All of these have possible side effects, including loss of sexual function and incontinence,” he explains.

This is due to the treatments which can cause collateral damage to surrounding sensitive tissues including nerves, muscles, urine passage, bladder and rectum.

Will Hide, a freelance writer in his 50s, underwent a radical robotic prostatectomy in November 2020, after volunteering for a trial at UCLH (University College Hospital) in London for a new type of test of the prostate known as Prostascan, which is similar to a mini MRI. The scan detected cancer, which came as a surprise since her last PSA test was negative. PSA tests are notoriously unreliable and can pick up too many non-aggressive cancers while missing the most aggressive ones.

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