Don’t ignore your prostate gentlemen
Our family has recently struggled with the loss of a relative, who sadly ignored some of the warning signs of prostate cancer. Don’t let your pride or fear leave your loved ones broken-hearted.
Many men feel deeply embarrassed to discuss these symptoms with people they love, let alone their GP. Let’s start the conversation at home, in the workplace, and at the sports club – making it feel less of a stigma and more a fact of life.
Please take a few minutes to read this information and feel more confident about what the prostate is, symptoms of it enlarging, and warning signs that warrant further investigations.
1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives.
What is the prostate?
The prostate is a small gland located in the pelvis, between the penis and bladder, wrapped around the tubes that transport both urine and semen out of the body (the urethra). It is part of the male reproductive system, producing fluid that is a part of semen.
As a man ages, his prostate usually increases in size resulting in compression of the urethra and causing the opening of the bladder to become narrow, causing an obstruction or difficulty in passing urine.
Enlargement of the prostate can therefore cause:
- Frequency in the need to pass urine
- Delay in being able to pass urine (called hesitancy)
- Less force to the flow of urine (poor stream)
- Incomplete emptying of the bladder
- 2nd flow of urine after the first, in spurts or dribbles
- Nocturia (waking in the night to pass urine)
Enlargement of the prostate is usually benign and is not a threat to health. Having an enlarged prostate does NOT increase the risk of developing prostate cancer.
You are more likely to develop prostate cancer if:
- You are 50 years of age or older
- Anyone in your immediate family (father/brother) who had prostate cancer
- You are of the black Caribbean or black African descent
- You are considered overweight or obese
The 5 main warning signs (symptoms) of prostate cancer are:
- Pain or a burning sensation when either passing urine or ejaculating
- Frequency in passing urine, especially during the night
- Difficulty in either starting or stopping the flow of urination
- Sudden erectile dysfunction
- Blood in your urine or semen
Remember sudden weight loss or fatigue can also be a warning sign, especially if they are accompanied by one or more of the 5 specific symptoms.
If you or someone you love are experiencing any of these symptoms, please make an appointment with your GP for investigations and specialist input.
Types of investigations include:
- Urine test to ensure no signs of infection.
- Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test – this can be raised for non-cancerous conditions too and should not be considered a stand-alone test.
- Your GP may need to perform a digital rectal examination (by inserting a gloved finger into your rectum, to feel if the prostate is enlarged).
- If you do have a raised PSA blood test result, you should follow this up with your GP for further investigations such as an MRI scan or a biopsy.
Should you have a normal or low PSA blood test result but still have any of the above-mentioned symptoms, please ask your GP, several times, if necessary, to follow up with further investigations or repeated PSA levels.
What can you do to look after your prostate?
- Healthy lifestyle choices such as eating a healthy diet, foods that are considered to increase prostate health include cooked tomatoes, selenium in Brazil nuts, fish, seafood, liver & kidneys. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Pak Choy, spinach, kale, and Brussel sprouts. Pulses such as beans, peas, lentils, and soy foods are also considered to be good for your prostate health.
- Regular exercise, including cardiovascular exercise to avoid obesity
- Reduce stress in your life where possible
- Both Green and Hibiscus tea are said to be good for the prostate – leaving the tea to brew for 5 minutes to release the protective nutrients
At Connexus Health & Rehabilitation we offer a standalone PSA blood test, or a package on male hormones (testosterone, PSA, follicle-stimulating hormone & luteinizing hormone), to allow you to keep an eye on your levels.
We advise any results we provide; you can then share with your GP and follow up with further investigations as needed. Get in touch today via our contact page.