‘Movember’, a campaign month to raise awareness of men’s health issues, has ended, but men’s health is not off the agenda. The NHS Help Us Help You campaign, in conjunction with the Caribbean African Health Network (CAHN) and Professor Frank Chinegwundoh, an expert in prostate cancer, urges Black men to come forward for life-saving cancer checks.
Thanks to awareness raising campaigns recent NHS figures show that in England, in just one year, the number of men having treatment for prostate cancer has jumped by more than a quarter. Almost 4,000 men received prostate cancer treatment in August (3,898) compared to just over 3,000 in the same month last year (3,057).
Prostate cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers and is very treatable if caught early. However, most men with early prostate cancer do not have any signs or symptoms. Research suggests treatment at stages one and two means a near 100% chance of surviving for 5 years or more compared to around 50% at stage four.
The chances of developing prostate cancer are higher for men over the age of 50, those who have a family history of prostate cancer and Black men, who are twice as likely to get prostate cancer than other men.
If symptoms do appear, they can include:
- needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- needing to rush to the toilet
- difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
- straining or taking a long time while peeing
- weak flow
- feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- blood in urine or blood in semen.
These symptoms can also be caused by a range of other things that are not prostate cancer.
Professor Frank Chinegwundoh, Consultant Urological Surgeon at Barts NHS Trust, said, “Prostate cancer is slow growing, and therefore you may not present with any symptoms for years. Usually, symptoms will only appear when the prostate is large enough to affect the tube that carries urine from the bladder to the tip of the penis. This is why it’s vital that men understand their risk and get tested if you are a Black man over 45 or have a family history of prostate cancer.”
“The NHS has been working hard to recover the dip in men starting treatment for cancer that came because of the pandemic and it’s great that recent NHS figures show that treatment for prostate cancer has jumped by more than a quarter, in England in one year.”
“When we talk to Black men, we know they can be put off prostate testing because they think it only involves a digital rectal exam (or physical anal exam, in other words). But this is not the case. A blood test (PSA) and MRI scan are some of the less invasive methods of checking for prostate cancer.”
“I would encourage more Black men to assess their own risk of developing prostate cancer through the Prostate Cancer UK online risk checker and to see their GP if they want to find out more about things like the PSA blood test. You can have prostate cancer without any urinary or sexual problems so don’t assume that because you have no symptoms you don’t need to listen to this message. If you do have symptoms, please contact your GP practice without delay; early diagnosis and treatment could save your life.”
Charles Kwaku-Odoi, Chief Officer, CAHN said, “We have been hosting prostate cancer awareness raising events in the Black community and encouraging men to get tested. Open conversations about prostate cancer are really helping to break down barriers and address people’s concerns. As more people come forward for checks, it provides opportunities for early detection of cancer which can go a long way to saving lives.’’
‘’We’ve had a number of testimonials of Black men who have attended our events, had confidential conversations with Black doctors which alleviated their fear, enabling them to get tested, and engage with treatment where necessary.”
You can check your risk using Prostate Cancer UK’s online risk checker at prostatecanceruk.org/riskcheck.