There are 5 million Rwandan men worldwide and because they are black Rwandaprostate.org realise that their men are in the increased risk group so they have said that to secure the future of Rwandans by not ignoring this disease all 5 million men will be tested for prostate cancer by 2020.
Yet here in the UK we continue to hear stories today of men who have concerns about the health of their prostate being refused a PSA test as was one man in Aberdare this week. Whether a man has a PSA test or not should be a shared decision between him and his GP. The GPs advice should be in line with the NICE guidelines plus any other health issues the man may have.
Living well with prostate cancer is all about getting the best quality of life the man could possibly achieve following on after deciding his best treatment options.
I don’t often talk about myself and my cancer on facebook although I do refer to it sometimes this morning (Thursday) is one of those reflective times for me. The day started with a cafe breakfast shared with a good friend Cat S always inspirational. Mid morning and I was in a meeting that lasted almost 4 hours with one of the UKs leading cancer research companies looking at what patients see as priorities in the several areas of funding for research. The patients view (given an arbitrary £350M to spend ) was that research into early diagnosis should receive the biggest portion of their funding with research funding into new treatments as a close but second priority. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to stretch the mind.
Will funding into research that looks for diagnosing cancer at a stage when a cure is possible ever overtake the funding that goes into treatments without reducing the funding for treatments?,
Yesterday I heard of a friend who has had a “skirmish” with cancer that was caught in time and removed so now is the sit and wait time that could possibly be a couple of years to receive the all clear.
Today my mind was focussed on another dear friend currently in Velindre and having a really tough time with bony metastatic prostate cancer.
This evening I had a call from the daughter of yet another friend Kaz in Peterborough who over the last 5 years has had first a single mastectomy followed by the removal of the second breast sometime later before going through reconstruction all of which was a long and painful process all completed just 3 months ago and with the hope and real promise of being able to live a cancer free life.
The message from her daughter was that Kaz has been diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and now awaiting results of a brain scan. I will do what i can over the telephone or by email and hope that she gets the very best of care at such a difficult time.
Cancer is just like that and I realise the more I look into cancer the more people I will meet who are affected by cancer but this is what I have chosen to do and it is what I love doing and will continue to do I am not afraid of cancer I just want to help other people attain the best quality of life that matches their aspirations whatever stage their cancer is at..
Later I will write about something that has been a part of my life for the past 8 years.Intermittent Androgen Deprivation (IADT) which is a method whereby some men can take a ‘holiday’ from hormone therapy treatment (examples Prostap or Zoladex) .
The likely culprits are.
I inherited a genetic condition. So should I blame my parents?
It was caused by a virus which in turn caused cells to grow uncontrollably (cells that help to heal a cut for instance will stop when the job is done).
It was caused by tobacco (I never smoked but maybe it was passive smoke).
Pollution to a greater or lesser degree surrounds us all.
The summertime favourite the BBQ red meat cooked at a high temperature (some times burnt if you have been to one of mine) with processed meats such as burgers and sausages being in the higher culprit bracket.
In saying all that for myself and for far too many other men it is locking the stable door when the proverbial horse has bolted.
But you may wish to consider the likely culprits if you are looking at risk factors of prostate cancer for yourself, your dad your brother your son your uncle your father in fact any man with a prostate!!
Having urinary problems such as going for a pee more often or getting up frequently for a pee in the night are the biggest reason a man will go to his doctor for a PSA test BUT these symptoms are almost certainly not cancer. There are no symptoms for early stage prostate cancer.
Every man with a prostate should have a PSA test from the age of 50 or from the age of 40 if they are in the High Risk group (Caribbean men, Men of Western African Origin, Men with a strong family history). Example of risk – Men from Trinidad and Tobago (who have the highest incidence per 100k of PCa in the WORLD!) are 2x more likely to have prostate cancer than the 2nd highest incidence group of men who are from Cuba and 4x more likely than men from Canada and 25x more likely than men from Uzbekistan (who have the lowest incidence per 100k in the WORLD).
A man aged 40 to 49 whose baseline PSA is below 1.0 has very little risk of developing lethal PCa.
Knowing that Caribbean and Western African guys are in the HIGH RISK group I find it strange that so few of them are included in all trials and studies. It would seem logical to me that to get any clear meaningful results they should always be included to a much greater degree than they are now.
So why is the prostate gland important to men and women.
Why does it cause so many problems?
The prostate gland is a man thing it is in a capsule just below the bladder and with the back of the prostate capsule close to the rectum, hence the value of a Digital (finger ) Rectal Examination (DRE).
The function of the prostate gland is like that of a middle man who has his own manufacturing process.
It all starts in the testicles where sperm is produced.
At this stage the sperm that is made is a jelly like substance which passes from the testicles through a ‘tube’ known as Vas Deferens (no relation to any Dutch footballer!!) the Vas Deferens allow this sperm to pass through it into a ‘holding bay’ known as the seminal vesicle (a flexible storage container) the seminal vesicle sits on the top of the prostate gland.
Here is where the magic begins in the manufacturing workshop.
Fluid leaves the prostate gland joins up with the sperm jelly at the same time that it is released from the seminal vesicle.
This mixing process turns the jelly like sperm substances into liquid form which is then ready to be released during ejaculation and the magic trick is that with the help of those wonderful people women you and I are created.
A man without a prostate needs to have a good memory and an understanding partner which is why ALL men should take great care of their prostate health as life without one can be enjoyable but it is just that much more difficult.
Thanks to Prof Roger Kirby (Prostate Centre-London) for his book “the prostate small gland big problem” the inspiration for many things I do in the name of the red sock campaign.
Jeff Sainsbury ex Lord Mayor of Cardiff has just passed away as prostate cancer takes away the life of yet another dear friend aged just 70. A true gentleman and a family that now is torn apart. Don’t anyone ever tell me that a simple PSA test cannot save the lives of men such as Jeff, Robert Catton and far too many others.
What should be done now more men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer than ever before. In the UK we are becoming an aging population that is set to have increased by almost 10 million over the 25 years up to 2023 6.9 million of those will be added to the over 65 population so unless those extra over 65s are healthy and capable of working those people in the working population will struggle to support this country. All those involved in funding research should combine together and develop a common strategic plan around investments in prostate cancer research that will have the greatest impact on this dreadful disease with diagnostics taking the lead alongside treatments for those men with late stage prostate cancer for whom the tools for diagnosing their prostate cancer were not used at a stage of their cancer when the window of opportunity of a cure was open.
Here is a link to a study by Dr Vickers et al on this subject that was published in the BMJ on April 17th 2013. The study detail is preceded by a 4 minute video of Dr Vickers talking about the value of a single PSA test.