Prostrate cancer affects one in eight men in the UK, so what are the symptoms and what should you do next? Private GP Dr Suhail Hussain seeks to put your mind at rest
The sad and premature death of Bill Turnbull, the veteran TV and radio broadcaster, in August has had tributes pouring in from current and former colleagues. I never watched him on the BBC (far too early for me), but often listened to his excellent show on Classic FM, which I enjoyed immensely.
Many people will have known that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2017 and was undergoing treatment for it. Following the revelation of his diagnosis, Prostate cancer UK revealed that there was a 20% increase in NHS referrals for potential prostate cancer.
Despite this, prostate cancer still remains extremely common. One in eight men in the UK will be diagnosed with it in their lifetime and more than 395,000 are living with the disease. So what are the symptoms to look out for?
Difficulty passing urine, which includes symptoms like:
- Trouble starting/stopping micturition
- Incomplete emptying
- Increased frequency (day or night)
Of particular concern is blood in the urine or semen. This should warrant urgent appointment with your GP. If you leave it and ignore these early symptoms then it can metastasise (spread) elsewhere, often to bone, lymph nodes, lungs and liver.
Should you experience fevers/weight loss/sweats or unexplained aches and pains (particularly in the legs or back) then again see your GP urgently.
What will happen when you see your GP?
They’ll examine you – feel your tummy, check your genitals and feel your prostate (this requires a rectal examination). But better a finger up your bum than missing something that is eminently treatable in the early stages.
Once they’ve done this, they’ll check your blood for PSA (prostate specific antigen). Whilst not 100% accurate it remains a very useful tool.
If they find something on examination or in the blood, they’ll refer you to see a specialist (urologist) who will advise on further management.
The key is to be proactive about your health. Men are traditionally reluctant to talk about any aspects of their health – physical or mental. We need to remove the stigma surrounding health and wellbeing and encourage men to open up. Better you see someone and suffer some mild embarrassment than leave a significant medical problem too late.
The best way to do this is to book a health screening (well man) check with a doctor who has the time to sit and listen carefully to you in a non-judgmental fashion and without rushing you.
Someone who will talk honestly with you and tailor treatment that is medically sound, but also works around you.
I offer well man (and well woman) screening appointments (visit drsuhailhussain.com/private-gp-services/health-screening-well-man-well-woman/) that start from as little as £395. We’ll have time to sit together (90 minutes) and discuss any/everything you would like to about your health. Even if you’re well, it is beneficial to get an annual screen to optimise your health. According to the World Health Organisation: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence if disease or infirmity.”
I also work with a number of other specialists – nutritional therapists, physios, Pilates instructors, acupuncturists and more and can discuss with you who is most appropriate for you, based on your needs.
Additionally, I have an extensive network of secondary care Consultants to whom I can refer if necessary. Finally, I also see patients on an as requited basis – in clinic, at home or via telephone/video.