Men generally are not known for seeking early medical help regarding illness. Usually it requires something serious or prolonged before a visit to their doctor or the hospital emergency department. However there are important signs that no man should ignore. Such signs if caught early will allow prompt treatment, management and help to maintain good health.
One such topic which we feel important to promote during Men’s Health Week concerns the prostate and the risk of developing prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the commonest cancer in men in the UK and therefore all men and even women should be aware of it. Commonly a problem in the older generation it still is something we all should be aware of.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland located between the bladder and the penis and is just in front of the rectum. The urethra, which allows the flow of urine from the bladder to the penis, then out of the body runs through the centre of the prostate. The prostate is also involved in secreting fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
Symptoms usually described by men are urinating more often, difficultly in starting to urinate, blood in the urine/semen, poor flow/straining, feeling not fully emptied the bladder and dribbling a lot after urinating. This potentially can mean a process is occurring within the prostate itself which is affecting the urethra and therefore is characterised by the stated symptoms. Therefore it is vitally important if these symptoms are present, a doctor should be contacted.
An assessment by a doctor will usually entail a prostate examination, possibly a urine sample but most importantly a blood test for the Prostate Specific Antigen(PSA). This is a protein secreted by the prostate which rises if the prostate is affected. The PSA normal range is relative to age therefore risk is considered in the context of a gentleman’s symptoms, history and examination findings. Therefore the older a man is, the higher his prostate cancer risk. A raised PSA does not automatically mean prostate cancer however it is definitely a marker for further investigation. Commonly a raised PSA may just be due to an enlarged prostate. When this happens it is termed Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy(BPH). It is not cancer but may also need treatment. Therefore the GP or doctor will refer to a urologist who is a specialist in investigating this further.
But what can we do?
A healthy lifestyle therefore is not only vital in reducing the risk of prostate cancer but in all types of cancer. Obesity particularly is a factor however genetics plays a strong part. A family history of prostate cancer should never be ignored and studies have shown that the Afro -Caribbean population tend to be at higher risk.
So good nutrition and plenty of exercise are still fundamentals to strive for and WAFFL is dedicated to helping those achieve this. Our WAFFL app works with you to help steer clear of a sedentary lifestyle which promotes poor health and increased cancer risk. However it is important to note that sometimes even regular exercise or good nutrition is wholly inadequate compared to that knowledge of your own physical well-being and being able to determine when you really need to see a medical professional.
Dr A Egboh, WAFFL Doctor
MBBS, BSc, AICSM, MRCGP