With the number of men dying from prostate cancer officially overtaking female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK, a leading consultant is urging men over 45 to get a check that could save their life.
The latest government figures, taken from 2015 and announced at the end of January, show there was 11,819 deaths from prostate cancer compared with 11,442 from breast cancer.
As part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout March, Steve Garnett, a consultant urologist at Spire Sussex Hospital in Hastings, wants to see a big rise in the number of men over 45 visiting their GP for an examination.
Mr Garnett said: “The most common test usually involves a ‘digital examination’.
“That means the doctor feeling inside the man’s back passage.
“It is common practice for the doctor, usually takes less than a minute, is relatively painless and could save your life.”
The causes of prostate cancer, which is responsible for more than 10,000 UK deaths each year, are largely unknown but what is certain is that chances of developing it increase in men over 50 years of age, Spire said.
Men whose father or brother have been affected are at higher risk of being affected.
Mr Garnett said: “A blood test known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can be the first step to checking for cancer but this can only supply an indicator.
“The problem with the PSA test is that levels can be raised by non-cancerous growths or urinary infections of the prostate.
“But it is better to be safe than sorry and, if necessary, a follow-up test will then allow doctors to be much more exact in their diagnosis.
“It is important to use the Awareness Month to encourage more men to be tested but the message needs to be going out all through the year.
Prostate Cancer Facts
n Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.
n More than 46,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year
n Every hour one man dies from prostate cancer
n One in eight men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime
n More than 330,000 men are living with and after prostate cancer