As Featured in The Telegraph –United Kingdom
Over 11,000 men die of prostate cancer every year
One in four black men in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lives. But 86 per cent of them remain oblivious to that danger, according to online research carried out for Prostate Cancer UK.
These startling statistics are behind Stronger Knowing More, a new campaign to raise awareness about prostate cancer. It’s fronted by black celebrities including David Haye, Linford Christie and Labour MP, Chuka Umunna.
Despite prostate cancer’s prevalence in the black community, it remains a taboo subject. The campaign is encouraging men to talk about the disease with their doctors so that it can be diagnosed earlier and treated more successfully.
Haye said that he is more likely to get prostate cancer – and get it younger – because he is a black man. He warned not to “let pride get in the way”.
He said: “If you’re black and over 45, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer, don’t wait wait for any warning signs. Don’t let prostate cancer knock you out.”
Stronger Knowing More is the latest in a line of attempts to raise awareness of prostate cancer – a subject brought to the fore of late by a number of celebrities who have spoken about their diagnoses. Last year, actor Ben Stiller revealed he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014; Sir Ian McKellen, Robert De Niro and Roger Moore have also been diagnosed with the cancer.
Though black men are at an increased risk, the statistics are alarming for men all over the country. In the UK, over 11,000 men die from prostate cancer every year. There are also more than 330,000 men living with it in the UK. By 2030, it’s set to become the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK.
Here is everything you need to know about prostate cancer
What does the prostate do?
The prostate’s main job is to create some of the fluid found in semen. It weighs about 20 grams and is the size of a chestnut.
What is prostate cancer?
Healthy cells usually divide and die, but cancer cells keep multiplying. When they build up, they cause a cancer. This process is much the same in the prostate as elsewhere in the body.
Who’s at risk?
Men over 50. The average age for diagnosis is between 65 and 69. Most men under 50 are not at risk, but the probability is higher if you are black.
It’s also believed to be hereditary so you’re more at risk if a relative has had the cancer.
What are the symptoms?
Prostate cancer can go unnoticed for a long – which is part of the problem when it comes to treating it, as the cancer can be quite developed before it is identified.
The most common symptoms are to do with urination. That includes needing to urinate more frequently and difficulties trying to urinate, such as a weak flow. Other symptoms include needing to rush to the bathroom a lot, as well as feeling that you are not emptying your bladder completely. Another symptom is waking up at night to urinate.
Less common symptoms include pain when urinating or ejaculating, as well as blood in urine and semen.
What’s the test?
A PSA test – a blood test for levels of a prostate-specific antigen – can suggest you have a problem with your prostate, though not necessarily cancer. A DRE (digital rectal examination) is also used to test for prostate problems. The doctor or nurse will feel the prostate through the rectum. There might be momentary discomfort but it’s over quickly.
The only way to know that it is cancer for certain is with a biopsy, which will also hopefully reveal how aggressive the cancer is. The most common type of biopsy in the UK is a TRUS (transrectal ultrasound), where small pieces of tissue are taken from different areas of the prostate.
It takes about ten minutes. The results provide a Gleason grade which should show how likely a cancer is to spread. There are five grades; anything above grade two is cancer.
What can I do about it?
Treatments vary and the doctor will advise once the specific type of cancer is known. Some treatments try to remove the tumour completely, while some just try to keep it under control.
If the cancer has not spread outside the prostate, active surveillance may be the best option. This means the cancer is actively monitored with tests but not treated immediately. Often, localised prostate cancer grows slowly and may not spread so treatment is not necessary. This means you avoid the side effects of cancer treatment.
If tests show that the cancer is growing, the appropriate treatment will be recommended to cure the cancer.
Is there a way to prevent prostate cancer?
Though it is not known for certain, healthy diet and exercise may lower the risk of cancer. Recent research suggests that being overweight increases your chances of getting prostate cancer.
How close are we to a cure?
New treatments offer a hope for those living with prostate cancer. Last year, a man with advanced prostate cancer was “cured” by doctors who “shocked” his tumour to death with huge amounts of testosterone.
Professor Sam Denmeade, from John Hopkins University School of Medicine, led that study and called the results “unexpected and exciting”. However, he admitted that they were “still in the early stages of figuring out how this works”.