Prostate health - prostate cancer signs and symptoms to be mindful of
At LloydsPharmacy, we’re here to help you look after your prostate health. We can help you understand the symptoms of prostate cancer that you should be aware of, your risk of developing prostate cancer as well as steps you can take to lower your risk of prostate cancer and when to get tested.
The key to prostate cancer prevention is screening. Thousands of prostate cancer deaths could be avoided with early detection. That’s why we've teamed up with LetsGetChecked to provide expert advice on the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer to be aware of.
Prostate Cancer UK report that 1 in 8 will have prostate cancer at some point in their life. Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men.*
What is prostate cancer?
Prostate cancer is a cancer that occurs in the prostate gland. The prostate gland is around the size of a walnut and it is part of the male reproductive system. The gland can be found between the penis and the bladder, and it is responsible for producing seminal fluid, which is the substance that transports sperm during ejaculation.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
Usually prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms at all, especially in the early stages.
However if you do experience symptoms these can include:
- Blood in your semen and/or urine
- An increased need to urinate or you are urinating more frequently
- Pain during sex
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty urinating
- Pain during sex
- Unexplained weight loss
- Pain in the crotch, thighs or lower back
Many of these symptoms can be caused by your prostrate growing as you age, this puts pressure on your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of your body). If you notice any of these symptoms or a combination then speak to your doctor. They will be able to offer advice.
Can I take steps to lower my chance of getting prostate cancer?
One study reports that 20% of prostate cancer deaths could be avoided if there was a national screening programme in place. However, there is currently no screening programme in the UK and Ireland for prostate cancer. There has been debate among health care workers about whether the benefits of a prostate cancer prevention programme outweighs the potential risk of over diagnosis and over treatment.
It might surprise you that some day to day lifestyle changes can lower your risk of prostate cancer.
We all know that smoking it bad for us, however all literature indicates that smoking stimulates the growth of precancerous cells, increasing your risk of getting cancer, but also the growth and development of malignant cells.
Studies have shown that exercising on a regular basis can reduce your risk of prostate cancer. Exercise is known to combat a number of health issues including weight control and mood management.
Watch your weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for our overall health. While there are numerous hypothesises regarding excess weight and cancer, it is widely believed that essential androgen hormones decline if you are carrying excess weight. If you are interested in losing weight you can read our handy guide, packed full of hints and tips to help you.
Look for healthy alternatives
Ongoing studies suggest that high saturated fat diets and processed meat could be linked to prostate cancer.This may be because animal products have a high fat content which promotes excess fat alongside insulin growth pathways that speed up the growth of cancer cells. Consider cutting down on meat and dairy and increase your veggie intake to take control of your overall health. If you are thinking about having a few meat free days a week, then our vegan eating guide could help you discover delicious meals and snack ideas to get you started.
Should I get tested for prostate cancer?
About 1 in 4 cases of cancer in the UK are diagnosed through emergency admission to hospital.
You should consider getting tested if:
- You are over the age of 40
- You have a family history of prostate cancer
- You are a black African or Afro-Caribbean
- You have an infected or inflamed prostate (Prostatitis)
- You have an enlarged prostate (Prostatic Hyperplasia)
- You are experiencing erectile dysfunction
- You are on medication for cholesterol, urinary issues, low testosterone or high blood pressure
How do PSA tests work?
PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) is a chemical that appears in a man’s bloodstream at higher levels when the prostate gland is enlarged or cancerous. Although not a definite diagnosis of prostate cancer, a higher than normal PSA level can be a significant sign that something is not quite right and further testing might be required.
It is completely up to you whether you decide to have your PSA tested. The LetsGetChecked PSA Test measures the volume of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels in your blood. If there is a high level of antigen in your blood, it indicates that further investigation is required into your risk of prostate cancer.
The LetsGetChecked PSA Test includes full step by step instructions, lancets, alcohol swabs, wipes and a secure blood collection tube for you to safely send off your sample.
How the LetsGetChecked test works
The PSA test involves a small prick to the finger to collect a tiny blood sample.
Here is how to use the kit, which provides everything you will need:
- Fill in your details on the lab sticker contained in the test kit
- Head to the LetsGetChecked website to activate your kit
- Use the alcohol swab provided to clean and dry the finger
- Take the lancet and use as per the included instructions
- Wipe away the first drops of blood with a tissue
- Gently squeeze your finger to help the blood flow
- Fill your sample to the line in the collection tube and secure
- Ensure you have completed the details in the kit
- Send your sample off in the self-addressed envelope
Tips for taking the PSA test:
- Take the test in the morning, allowing around 15-20 minutes to complete
- Always wash your hands in warm soapy water before collecting your sample
- Warm hands make it easier to take a sample
- The best location for collecting blood from the third or fourth finger of the hand you don't write with