Earlier this year, it was established that prostate cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer in England and Wales according to data released by Public Health England.
The good news is that it is generally a slow-growing cancer with a good prognosis if discovered at an early stage. Screening is testing to find cancer before the patient may have experienced symptoms and, if prostate cancer is found as a result of screening, it may be at an early stage when curative treatments are more likely to be successful.
Prostate cancer does not usually cause any symptoms, but when it does, the commonest ones are as follows:
- passing urine more often than usual
- getting up during the night to pass urine more frequently
- difficulty passing urine – e.g a weaker flow, not being able to empty the bladder completely and straining to starting the flow
- increased urgency to pass urine
- blood in the urine or semen
The first step: visiting your GP
If you’ve been experiencing any symptoms or have a family history of cancer, then discussing this with your GP is your first step. Dr Adam Hazell can then discuss the tests that can be performed.
Prostate tests and exams
Urine test: during your consultation with Dr Adam Hazell, he will ask for a urine sample which can be tested for signs of an infection. If you have an infection, this will be treated and further tests will be offered.
Rectal examination: another exam that may be offered is a digital rectal examination (DRE). You will be lying on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest and Dr Hazell will feel inside your rectum using a lubricated, gloved finger. The aim is to feel for any abnormalities such as an enlarged prostate or a prostate that feels unusually hard or lumpy.
Men are often nervous about this test, but you shouldn’t feel any pain. You can have a chaperone in the room with you if preferred.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test: this is a blood test for prostate cancer. Your blood can be tested for a protein that is produced by the prostate. If you have a raised level of this protein, it can indicate that you have prostate cancer. A raised PSA level is not an absolute sign of prostate cancer; it can be a sign of infection or inflammation of the prostate.
Although the PSA is currently the best screening blood test readily available for prostate cancer, there are pros and cons associated with its use, so Dr Hazell will always discuss these with you before it is taken.
Diagnosing prostate cancer
Dr Adam Hazell will use the results of these different tests to assess the likelihood of you having or developing prostate cancer and refer you to a urologist for further tests if necessary.
The tests they will perform can include MRI scans, ultrasounds and biopsies and if you are diagnosed with prostate cancer, your treatment options will be discussed with you by your consultant.
Dr Adam Hazell and the team at The Tyburn will be there to support you throughout your patient journey, alongside any treating specialists.