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Streets Of London: The Rise Of Prostrate Cancer

Streets Of London with Malcolm Aitken

The Rise, And Rise, Of Prostrate Cancer

Prostate cancer may soon overtake lung cancer as the most common form of the disease among British men it was announced on Monday by experts. They are calling for funding into testing for different prostate tumors and better co-ordination of research. Malcolm Aitken reports.

A steady rise in British prostate cancer cases since 1971, means figures are likely to exceed those for lung cancer by 2006, according to the Institute of Cancer Research, in London. Every year in Britain an estimated 9500 men die from prostate cancer and 22 000 cases are diagnosed. Moreover, a British man has a 1 in 13 lifetime risk of developing it, says charity the Prostate Cancer Charity. The rising number of prostate cases is largely attributed to increased detection through the Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, but the test’s shortcomings are indicative of the difficulties with tackling prostate cancer.

‘Prostate cancer is different from most other cancers because at least 70 percent of it does not need treatment. The tragedy is that we have no way of telling which cases will be aggressive and therefore need treating and which will not’ says David Dearnaley, the Institute’s male cancer expert.

‘The side effects of treatment can be very severe on some men [impotence and incontinence] so we only want to treat those who will develop the life-threatening form of the disease. What this means is that many men could receive treatment who may not need it.’ Alternatively men needing treatment can die because it’s not clear they have the aggressive form of the cancer.

The UK Government has said every man over 50 is entitled to a PSA test, which measures blood levels of a protein that tend to rise when the prostate gland enlarges. Complicating matters furthers however, the prostate can also enlarge and these levels rise with non-cancerous conditions, such as the very common benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). A biopsy is required to confirm cancer.

In June the Institute is launching a publicity campaign to encourage men and their partners to be more open about prostate and testicular cancers.

Britain’s lung cancer figures for men also keep decreasing as fewer men smoke.

The common warning signs for prostate problems including cancer and BPH are: difficulty or pain when urinating, the need to urinate more often, broken sleep because of increased toilet visits, waiting for long periods before the urine flows and a feeling the bladder has not completely emptied. Scoop readers interested in finding out more about prostate conditions can visit or telephone the Prostate Awareness Support Society (PASS) NZ national helpline on 0800 62 72 77.


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