Prostate Cancer: A True Story

by Ella Dunthorne

30 August 2021

According to Prostate Cancer UK, ‘prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men’ and, in the United Kingdom alone, over 47,500 men are diagnosed with the disease each year. [1]  

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What is prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer forms when prostate cells begin to develop uncontrollably. Sometimes these cells grow so slowly that it won’t cause any problems, but sometimes they develop rapidly which means that you will require treatments to stop it from potentially spreading.

Who is likely to develop it?

There are 3 main risk factors associated with the likelihood of developing prostate cancer which include:

  • Ethnicity – this cancer is more common in Afro-Caribbean and African descent men.
  • Age – the majority of cases are diagnosed in men aged 50 or older.
  • Family history – if your brother or father that has developed this disease before they reached 60, then this increases your risk.
  • Weight – studies suggest that there might be a link between obesity and this type of cancer.
  • Diet – some research suggests that a high calcium diet is linked with a high risk of developing this disease.

What are the signs?

When prostate cancer enlarges the prostate enough to affect the urethra, you may recognise the following symptoms:

  • Needing to urinate more often
  • Straining whilst urinating
  • Feeling as though your bladder has not been emptied enough

The NHS UK website suggests that ‘these symptoms should not be ignored, but they do not mean you have prostate cancer. It’s more likely they’re caused by something else, such as prostate enlargement’. [2]

If this cancer spreads to other body parts this may result in other symptoms which include:

  • Weight loss
  • Blood in semen or urine
  • Pain in your back, hip or pelvis
  • Issues with maintaining an erection

However, lots of men with early prostate cancer don’t show any signs of the disease. This was true for my grandad Barrie Briffett who said, “there were no visible signs.”

An interview with a survivor

As a prostate cancer survivor, Barrie Briffett shares his true story about the treatment he received and what kept him going in the darkest of times.

When did you decide to go to the doctor?
“I was urged by Ian to have a PSA test as he had the cancer. I went for a blood test for my heart and asked if I could have the PSA test. This confirmed that I had cancer.”

What was the treatment like for this?
“After finding out about the cancer, I had a course of tablets then radiotherapy for 7 weeks everyday in Cheltenham. The treatment was painless, but I did feel unwell towards the end of it.”

What kept you going in the hardest of times?
“I just kept positive and, with the will to live, I recovered. I didn’t want to leave just yet.”

What advice would you give to others?
“I would say don’t hesitate to be tested or it could be too late.”

If you have been diagnosed with this form of cancer, or want to discuss your concerns, these are some steps you can take…

Talk to others

If you have any questions about this, your doctor or nurse may be able to reassure you. You might even find it beneficial to discuss your concerns with a trained counsellor, psychologist or a telephone helpline. Your doctors surgery will be able to give you more information about this.

If you would like to speak to a specialist nurse, this is the confidential helpline phone number for Prostate Cancer UK: 0800 074 8383 .

References:

[1] About prostate cancer | Prostate Cancer UK

[2] Prostate cancer – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

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