Many men misinformed about prostate cancer

The latest figures from Cancer Research UK show there are more than 46,000 new cases of prostate cancer each year in this country, with the disease causing more than 11,250 deaths annually.

Yet a survey of 818 British men carried out by private hospital group BMI Healthcare suggests there’s still a lack of knowledge about what causes prostate cancer.

Almost seven out of 10 men don’t realise being overweight is a risk factor for prostate cancer, the most common male cancer, the survey claims. Eighty-six percent are unaware that taking anabolic steroids is a risk factor too. A further 52 percent of men don’t know that having a family history of prostate cancer is a risk factor, while 42 percent aren’t aware that age also plays a part in the incidence, mortality and survival rates of prostate cancer.

According to BMI Healthcare, rates of prostate cancer are set to double within the next 15 years, making it one of the largest risks to men’s health. And while you can’t do anything about your age or family history, being aware of the preventable lifestyle factors that could have an impact on the development of prostate cancer could help improve your chances of avoiding the disease.

Know the signs

The same survey has also revealed many men aren’t aware of the warning signs of prostate cancer. More than half of those surveyed don’t realise having difficulty emptying their bladder could be a symptom, while 43 percent aren’t aware that blood in their urine or semen, or having to pass urine more frequently than normal could be signs too. Sixty-seven percent don’t know that having the sudden urge to empty their bladder may be a warning sign, while just over half mistakenly think having to get up in the night more often than normal to urinate is nothing to worry about.

Also of concern is the survey’s finding that 66 percent of men who’ve had symptoms similar to those of prostate cancer didn’t get checked out by their doctor. Overall, the majority of men (55 percent) aren’t confident they know the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, with just 10 percent saying they’re very confident they know them.

“Most early prostate cancer have no or few symptoms,” says BMI Healthcare consultant urologist John Beatty. “Symptoms can be related to local [cancer] growth and this may result in problems with passing urine, bleeding in the urine, bowel symptoms and erection problems. If the prostate cancer has spread to distant sites in the bones or lymph, it may result in pain, most commonly in the back.

“It is a cancer of the ageing male and is the most common non-skin cancer in men over 70, but can occur at an earlier age. Men who have fathers, brothers or grandparents with prostate cancer may be at increased risk, especially if they developed prostate cancer at a young age. Afro-Caribbean and black men may also have an increased risk.”

According to health charity Prostate Cancer UK, research shows that being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting cancer that’s more likely to spread (aggressive prostate cancer) or advanced prostate cancer (cancer that has spread outside the prostate). For more information about eating healthily and staying active to lower your risk of prostate cancer, the charity has a free leaflet you can download from its website.

Your local Careway pharmacist can also help by giving you advice on exercise and healthy eating. Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a global health awareness event held each year in March.