As someone with two big brothers and a dad who knows everything, I know only too well what men can be like when it comes to looking after their health. I also know that when I try to talk to them about important issues such as prostate cancer, they can do a very good job of ignoring me. Unfortunately, you can’t ignore the statistics though, and in February of this year it was confirmed that deaths from prostate cancer have now overtaken breast cancer deaths.
We all like to think we’re invincible, but the truth is cancer does not discriminate. Well, actually, prostate cancer does: it only affects men! So it’s imperative that we highlight the issue and make sure as many men get checked for this disease as possible, especially if they are over the age of 50 or have a father or brother who has had prostate cancer. It’s also worth men checking if they find themselves needing to rush to the toilet, or needing to go more often than normal. Early intervention significantly increases the chance of needing less intensive treatment and having a better outcome.
Now, having spoken to my dad, brothers and many of the operatives I deal with every day, I know one of the concerns regarding checking for prostate cancer is the perceived ‘invasive’ nature of the test. So let me put the minds of men at ease: in many cases, this may not need to happen. A simple PSA blood test can indicate if there may be an issue.
“What is a PSA test?” I hear men ask, or at least that’s what my dad wanted to know; my brothers were still ignoring me. A PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in the blood. PSA is a protein produced by normal cells in the prostate and also by prostate cancer cells. It’s normal to have a small amount of PSA in the blood; the amount rises as you get older and your prostate gets bigger. A raised PSA level may suggest a prostate problem, but not necessarily cancer.
So is it really worth not being around for your friends and family in the long term, for the sake of an hour to go and get checked? If there’s nothing wrong, they will have peace of mind. If there is something there, early intervention could not only mean the treatment is less invasive, it could also save lives.
I’m glad my dad listened to me and went to have his prostate checked. Now I just have to keep working on my brothers – or maybe I’ll leave that to my mum!
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