What you should know about Prostate Health
There are lots of myths surrounding testing for prostate health but in reality, a simple blood test followed by a rectal exam could detect prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most curable cancers out there, with a survival rate of just over 90% if caught at the early stages. The test as we know it, PSA (Prostatic Specific Antigen) is a test for prostate problems, and it does not always indicate that there is prostate cancer. It could let you know that you have a prostate that is becoming enlarged and maybe beginning to cause urinary problems. The most important thing when it comes to prostate cancer is early detection. The earlier it’s caught, the easier it is to treat. But do remember also that prostate cancer may not present itself with any symptoms.
Symptoms to Look Out For
- Having to rush to the toilet to pass urine
- Passing urine more often than usual, especially at night
- Difficulty passing urine, including straining to pass it or stopping and starting
- A slow flow or a weak flow that may be intermittent
- A sense of not being able to completely empty the bladder
- Pain when passing urine
- Blood in the urine or in the semen
Once you hit 50, your chances of developing prostate cancer increase. You are also two and a half times more likely to develop prostate cancer if your father, uncle or brother has had it so it’s important to know your family history. If you know you have a family history you should go to your doctor earlier and have a conversation about your prostate health, it is usually recommended at the age of 45. If you have sons, you should also talk to them at a certain age about their risk of developing prostate cancer.
What are the tests?
Talk to your GP about your prostate health and if he would recommend the PSA blood test. If he carries out a blood test and the results come back abnormal, your doctor will do a DRE (digital rectal exam) to make sure that the prostate is the shape and size it’s supposed to be a nd check for any irregularities. If your doctor is concerned, he will usually ask for a repeat PSA six weeks later and if it is still abnormal for your age, he will send you to a clinic to be seen by a specialist. At this clinic you may be sent for scans or a biopsy.
If you are diagnosed with prostate cancer remember the treatment is very individualised and important decisions need to be made so that you can live with the best quality of life possible. Your doctor and Nurse Specialist will help you to make an informed decision.
For more information, check out the Marie Keating Foundation: https://www.mariekeating.ie/cancer-information/prostate-cancer/