To mark the beginning of Movember, prostate cancer awareness month, the Irish Cancer Society has urged all men over 50 to take a half an hour to have a conversation with their doctor about prostate cancer.
Each year over 3,300 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer in Ireland which means that approximately 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. However, with improvements in treatments the 5 year survival rate for prostate cancer is now over 90%.
Kevin O’Hagan, Cancer Prevention Manager with the Irish Cancer Society, said, “Historically, there was a tendency to do a PSA test on anyone who was concerned about prostate cancer or displaying some symptoms. However, new guidelines from the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) has recommended that PSA tests are not used as a general screening for prostate cancer, but to confirm a diagnosis or to dictate treatment.“
“Rather than insisting on a test, we would strongly urge all men over 50 to simply take some time to have a conversation with their GP. Men over 50 are more at risk of getting the disease and even if they are asymptomatic, it is worth having that chat, as early prostate cancer often does not have any symptoms at all.”
“We know that sometimes men are slow to go to their doctor if they are worried. But prostate cancer is very treatable and the earlier it is detected, the better. This is why men need to be having yearly check-ups, particularly if they have a family history of prostate cancer.”
Tom Hope from Dunboyne Co. Meath was on an annual visit to his doctor (at the age of 62) to get his blood pressure checked and the doctor took a blood sample. About a week later his doctor reported an increase in the PSA reading and he referred him to an urologist to review the readings.
After a biopsy, the urologist confirmed that he had low grade prostate cancer and Tom, after a discussion with his urologist and his family, decided not to have surgery but opted to follow Active Surveillance. This involves regular consultant visits and blood tests, and a biopsy every 3 years to check on the status on the cancer.
Tom, who is also a member of the Prostate Cancer support group Men Against Cancer (MAC), added, “I would encourage all men to visit and chat to their GP annually about their health worries or concerns. That is the first step in taking control of your health. And if it’s a case that there is a diagnosis, it is really important to use the patient support groups in the community. I found great comfort and support in meeting and talking to other men who had been diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer and were living normal lives 15+ years after the diagnoses.”
“There are a lot of people out there who had cancer and who have had a positive outcome, particularly in prostate cancer. But it is so important to open up and talk about the treatment and the side effects – its makes you realise then you're not the only one going through this,” he concluded.
Now, 9 years later and after two further biopsies, both of which came back clear, Tom is happy to report that the prostate cancer is under control.
Since 2008, over 100,000 people have got involved and contributed to the Movember cause. Movember Ireland has funded over 30 prostate cancer initiatives, in partnership with the Irish Cancer Society, ranging from financial grants for patients and their families to ground-breaking research that has united the prostate cancer research community to improve outcomes and quality of life for the 1 in 7 Irish men who will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. Sign up now to support men’s health, visit Movember.com
To speak to a cancer nurse on any aspect of cancer contact the Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or drop into one of 13 Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide. For information on Daffodil Centre locations and opening times email daffodilcentreinfo@ irishcancer.ie. For more information log onto www.cancer.ie