Prostate cancer attacks nearly 3,500 men in Ireland every year – one in seven men is diagnosed with this condition every year. But while these numbers are worrying, it is a form of cancer that can be treated, especially if detected early.
During November, the Movember campaign aimed to encourage men to report to doctors if they were worried about aspects of their health, because early treatment for conditions such as prostate cancer can have very positive results.
Tom Hope is living proof, thanks to a routine checkup he found that he had prostate cancer and is now under surveillance to make sure he stays in control.
"In 2009 on an annual visit to my doctor to check my blood pressure, he took a blood sample that I thought was part of a normal annual examination," said the 71-year-old man. "But about a week later he contacted me to say that there were several high blood test readings and he wanted me to visit a urologist to have them examined.
"At this stage I did not realize what the reading was, or what they might mean, but I visited a urologist who explained what the prostate gland was, what function was performed and what was described as PSA (prostate specific antigen) was represented. PSA reading from 2.9 to 4.5, my doctor was worried and I felt that I had to undergo a biopsy that had to clarify the cause of the increase in PSA. After that, I was asked to go back to the urologist and bring my wife with me. "
Only 62 at the time, the father-of-three did not expect to be told he had cancer and had to make difficult decisions about whether or not he had treatment, which could have side effects.
"During the visit, the consultant told me that I had low-grade prostate cancer," said the Meath man. "This is total shock because I have no symptoms or difficulties with my urinary function and I was given the option of surgery to remove the prostate, (which carries the risk of incontinence) or active supervision, which involves a blood test every six months to monitor my PSA and visit a urologist I go every six months and get a digital rectal examination (DRE) to monitor cancer status.
"I talked about choices with my wife and decided to take active supervision because I didn't want to risk incontinence. I can always choose to operate at a later stage if I change my mind if it's really needed and I also explain my decision to three people my adult.
"But the most challenging problem was accepting that I had prostate cancer – I didn't cause it, I didn't drink or smoke and exercise regularly. However, that might not cause me trouble or kill me."
Indeed Kevin O & # 39; Hagan, the Cancer Prevention Manager of the Irish Cancer Society said most men did not die of the condition, but it is still important to be vigilant.
"Most prostate cancers are found when they are still early, many of which grow slowly, and symptoms may not occur for years if they occur at all – and men with early prostate cancer may not have symptoms," he said.
"Because early prostate cancer usually does not cause any symptoms, it is often identified through routine examinations. If you are over 50 years old, you should visit a doctor every year for an examination. If you have a family history, you should do a routine check. 40 years, your doctor can check the possibility of prostate cancer when you have no symptoms. Examination should include a digital rectal examination of the prostate gland and a special blood test called a PSA blood test.
"Although there are many men who live with prostate cancer, most men don't die from it – and in many cases can be cured or controlled."
The main treatments for prostate cancer are active supervision, external beam radiotherapy, hormone therapy, brachytherapy, surgery, chemotherapy and waiting alert – and each case is individual.
"The best treatment depends on a number of things, such as the stage and level of your cancer (how much your cancer has spread and how fast it grows), whatever symptoms you have, your general health, your age and your personal preferences," said the expert . "And with improvements in care, the five-year survival rate for prostate cancer is now above 90pc.
"Although having prostate urinary symptoms can be a sign of prostate cancer, it is more often caused by a benign enlargement of the prostate, which is common when you get older."
Prostate cancer Tom Hope was discovered because he was alert to routine checks. He was also diagnosed with malignant skin melanoma which was arrested and treated early for the same reason.
Today he is healthy and well and will encourage others to be aware of their bodies and seek help if someone is worried about them. And also attend regular checks and find out as much as possible about the health services available to all.
"My oncologist commented that I was fortunate that my skin cancer was identified earlier as often as it was only when the cancer had spread to other parts of the body identified," said Tom, who retired as Barnardo's finance director in 2013. "Over the years I have found comfort and great support in meetings and talking with other men who have been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer and live normally 15 years or more after diagnosis.
"I attend the Irish Cancer Society (ICS) conference every year to continue to update treatment options, so if I have to decide on treatment, I am fully aware of the choices available. In May 2013, I became part of their support service talking to patients referred from ICS aid desk or Daffodil Center. In 2014 I joined Men Against Cancer (MAC) – a support group for men who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and became part of their committee.
"I am also a member of several other committees and now, nine years later after two further biopsies, the two returned clear and my PSA moved in the range of 2.7 to 7.3, so I was really healthy, thanks to the initial detection."
FACT: Prostate cancer
⬤ Prostate cancer occurs when normal cells in the prostate gland change and grow to form a cell mass called a tumor.
Dini Early prostate cancer usually does not cause any symptoms. Usually it only causes symptoms when it has grown large enough to disrupt your bladder or press the tube that drains urine, causing problems with urination.
⬤ These symptoms are called prostate urinary symptoms and include slow urine flow, difficulty starting or stopping flow, urinating more often, especially at night, pain when urinating and feeling not emptying the bladder completely.
⬤ In Ireland, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, after skin cancer.
⬤ Every year more than 3,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer here. This means that one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
⬤ Less common symptoms include, pain in the lower back, hip or upper thigh, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, blood in urine or semen.
⬤ It is important to visit your doctor if you have concerns or if you have these symptoms so that they can be discussed and assessed.
⬤ For more information, visit cancer.ie or contact the nurseline cancer on freephone 1800 200 700, email [email protected] or enter one of the 13 Daffodil Centers at the national hospital.
⬤ Movember partnered with the Irish Cancer Society and was a major contributor to their prostate cancer program. The fund helps provide information, support and care for those affected by prostate cancer, as well as funding important cancer research.
⬤ To get involved, check movember.com
Health & Life