The symptoms of prostate cancer men must not ignore
One man has opened up about his diagnosis of prostate cancer in the hope more young men will be aware of the disease.
Chris Jones was just 53 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He said he was proof it was not an old man’s disease, and wants more men to be aware of the symptoms.
The difficulty is, prostate cancer develops slowly, so there may be no signs for many years. The symptoms could also be an indication of something else, and don’t always mean it is cancer.
If you are over 50, or you’re black, or your dad or brother had prostate cancer, you’re more likely to be diagnosed with the disease. Former S4C weatherman, Chris, who is an ambassador of Prostate Cymru, said there was a simple blood test that could be done at your GP that could pick up any indication of cancer.
Chris, now 58, was diagnosed with an enlarged prostate in 2015, when he had just turned 50. He said: “Back in 2015, I went out and celebrated my birthday, had one too many to drink and I could not pass water for over 24 hours, I was taken to hospital and that is when I got the diagnosis for an enlarged prostate.
“I was going back and for to the toiler far too often, it was urgent, I had to be careful when I was going out I had to know where the toilets are. I know the toilets on the M4 very very well. It affected my mental health, my confidence, I didn’t want to socialise, it was a burden.”
He lived with an enlarged prostate for three years until he decided to get surgery in 2018. Just a few months after that, doctors discovered cancerous cells. Chris dad also suffered with the disease.
Because he had surgery to address the problem with his enlarged prostate, Chris is living with very few symptoms of prostate cancer, and as it is in its early stages he isn’t receiving treatment for it yet. He has blood tests every eight weeks which analyse if the cancer has spread.
“Every time I go for a blood test I wonder what is going to happen this time. People think it is something that just happens to old men, but it really, really isn’t.”
He is urging men in Wales, if they have any of the risk factors or symptoms, to go to their GP and request a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test – you can ask for one if you are over 50. It measures the level of PSA and may help detect early prostate cancer. If you have a raised PSA level, you may be offered an MRI scan of the prostate to help doctors decide if you need further tests and treatment.
Charity Prostate Cymru celebrates its 20th anniversary this week, and are urging more young men to be aware of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer. Significant work has been achieved since the charity was set up in 2003. Following a petition from Prostate Cymru, the Welsh Government agreed to fund the £2.5 million Da Vinci robot through its Health Technology fund and with assistance from Cardiff University. Prostate Cymru has funded the training of surgeons in the use of the equipment which has helped hundreds of patients since it was installed in 2014. Artist Nathan Wyburn has produced a piece of art which will be unveiled at the the National Museum Wales Cardiff to mark the anniversary.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
The prostate is a small gland in the pelvis and is part of the male reproductive system. It is about the size of a walnut and is located between the penis and the bladder, and surrounds the urethra. It produces a thick white fluid that creates semen when mixed with sperm produced by the testicles.
According to the NHS, symptoms of prostate cancer do not usually appear until the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder out of the penis (urethra).
When this happens, you may notice things like:
- an increased need to pee
- straining while you pee
- a feeling that your bladder has not fully emptied
These symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean you have prostate cancer.
Treating prostate cancer
Prostate cancer does not always require treatment. If the cancer is at an early stage and not causing symptoms, a doctor may suggest “watchful waiting”.
But treatments include surgically removing the prostate, or radiotherapy, either own its own or alongside hormone therapy. Some people decided to delay treatment until the cancer has spread due to the potential side affects that come with it, like erectile dysfunction and urinary symptoms.