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Prostate cancer on the rise and detected late in the UK finds report

By Dr Ananya Mandal, MDApril 9, 2018

As many as 37 percent of all prostate cancers are detected late or in advanced stages in the UK, finds a new report from the charity Orchid. The report suggests that most of these cancers are detected at stages 3 and 4. Statistics show that nearly 47,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer annually and 11,000 succumb to the disease each year.

Image Credit: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock

Image Credit: Image Point Fr / Shutterstock

According to the report one fourth of all the prostate cancers are not only detected late but also at A&E departments rather than routine screenings. For the first time in UK, this February, statistics showed that deaths among men due to prostate cancer are greater than deaths among females due to breast cancer.

The charity calls prostate cancer menace a “ticking time bomb” for which something needs to be done urgently.

According to Orchid chief executive Rebecca Porta, prostate cancer is going to become the most common cancer in the UK within the next decade. There is a urgent crisis in “terms of diagnostics, treatment and patient care,” she said and called for urgent attention.

According to prostate cancer experts, USA has a far greater awareness regarding prostate cancer compared to the UK.

A quarter of all cases in the UK are diagnosed late while only 8 percent prostate cancers are detected late or at an advanced stage in the USA.

Experts warn that prostate cancer detected early is treatable whereas when treated late it becomes incurable. Further testing methods such as PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level detection, is also not always diagnostic.

For this report the charity approached the leading prostate cancer experts in UK and also at the published data on the prevalence of prostate cancer.

The information comes from organizations such as NHS England and National Prostate Cancer Audit among others.

The report notes that 42 percent of the prostate cancer patients had visited their GPs at least twice or more before they were appropriately referred to specialists. At least 6 percent visited their GPs five or more times before they were detected and sent to specialists.

Prostate Cancer Awareness

Cancers of the prostate are usually slow growing and are symptomatic only when the cancer mass is large enough to be pressing on organs around it.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include;

  • increase in the frequency to urinate (particularly at night)
  • greater sense of urgency to reach a toilet
  • weak urine flow
  • difficulty in starting and continuing to pass urine
  • feeling of incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Constipation or changed bowel habits if the cancer is pressing on the rectum
  • Back pain
  • Blood in urine or semen

The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and the condition usually develops in men aged 50 years or older.

There is no single test to diagnose prostate cancer. Usually, a diagnosis is made based on a physical examination of the prostate, blood tests and a biopsy. A raised PSA level may be an early indicator of prostate cancer but this is not absolutely diagnostic.

In many men with prostate cancer, immediate treatment may not be necessary. If the cancer is detected at an early stage, “watchful waiting” or “active surveillance” may be recommended.

This approach involves careful monitoring of the patient for symptoms of aggressive cancer growth and may be considered in cases where the cancer appears to be slow growing, is not causing symptoms and is confined to one area of the prostate.

Treatment includes surgical removal of the gland or prostatectomy, followed by radiotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Prostatectomy and radiotherapy may be followed by hormone therapy, which cuts off the cancer cells’ supply of testosterone, which fuels their growth.

Individuals with advanced prostate cancer that has spread to other organs or who have not been responsive to hormonal therapy may be treated with chemotherapy.

Reference: https://orchid-cancer.org.uk/prostate-cancer/

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