Hollywood actor, Ben Stiller has revealed a secret battle with prostate cancer. Speaking on the Howard Stern show, and accompanied by his surgeon, he spoke of his desire to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease and to encourage more men to get checked out. Describing his diagnosis as “immediately aggressive”, the Meet the Fockers star, who is now cancer free, spoke of the surgery he had to treat it. He said, “It came out of the blue for me. I had no idea.”
Prostate cancer is now the second most common cancer in the UK with nearly 50,000 cases being diagnosed in the UK each year. Currently one in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime, with it killing one man every hour, however if caught early it is usually treated successfully. This type of cancer is particularly prevalent in the over 50s so knowing the symptoms could prove life saving.
But now, recent developments in medicine have suggested that diagnosing prostate cancer could become easier than ever before. New scanning machines using advanced MRI technology have recently been introduced – and are proving to be incredibly effective. Currently being trialled on 576 men, it has nearly doubled the amount of tumours being caught. So is it available nationwide? Not yet unfortunately, but the NHS are looking into ways in which the screenings can be rolled out across the country.
So in the meantime, read on to find out more about the symptoms of prostate cancer and how to spot it…
What is prostate cancer?
Only men have a prostate, which is a small and squishy gland about the size of a walnut that sits between the bladder and the rectum. It also surrounds the uretha, which is the tube men urinate and ejaculate through. The size of the prostate gets bigger with age which is why the risk of this type of cancer increases with age. Although not an essential part of the anatomy it is a necessity for reproduction and fertility. Cancer in this area develops when cells in the prostate start to grow in an uncontrolled way.
Not everyone experiences symptoms, which is why it is important to get routine check ups with your doctor. Some men will experience changes in urinary or sexual function, due to the prostate’s proximity to other organs. These symptoms include…
– The need to urinate more than usual, in particular at night
– Difficulty either starting urination or holding it back
– Weak or interrupted flow of urine
– Pain or burning sensation during urination
– Dribbling after finish – A feeling that the bladder isn’t empty after urination – Difficulty in having an erection
– Painful ejaculations
– Blood in the urine or semen
-Frequent pain or stiffness in either the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
It is important that if your partner or a loved one is having any of these symptoms that they are checked out by a doctor.
Treatment of prostate cancer:
There are a number of different treatments for the disease and a doctor will advise on the best cause of action. Treatments include, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, a prostatectomy (surgery to remove the prostate), hormone therapy and cryotherapy (which involvdes freezing and thawing the cancer)
Who is at risk of prostate cancer:
It is most common for people to be diagnosed between the ages of 65 and 69, however the chances of contracting prostate cancer significantly increase after the age of 50. It can be a hereditary condition so if a family member has had it in the past then it is important to get regular check ups. Although no one knows how to prevent prostate cancer, staying healthy can help. Research has shown that being overweight or obese increases your risk of contracting cancer, and can make it more aggressive.
If you are worried about a partner or loved one then always seek advice from a doctor.
For more information on prostate cancer head to Prostate Cancer UK or Cancer Research UK where you can also find details about other types of cancer.