Today’s Story: “Men should be offered a screening test for prostate cancer in their late 40s, researchers say. The idea is controversial as prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing can be unreliable, throwing up false positive results that can cause undue worry and even treatment over something benign. But the Swedish team say checking every man aged 45-49 would predict nearly half of all prostate cancer deaths. Their findings, in The BMJ, come from a study of more than 21,000 men” BBC Website 17th April 2013
From two years ago: “Prostate cancer screening does not save lives, according to a 20-year study, published in the British Medical Journal. One in four newly diagnosed cancers in UK men is prostate cancer. Last year, the body which regulates screening in the UK advised against routine screening. The UK National Screening Committee said this study provided further evidence that the harms outweigh the benefits.” BBC Website April 2011
So where are we on this? Experts still say that screenings are not always going to find and solve the problem, but if we leave men to their own devices the 10,000 deaths a year will not decrease. The numbers are conflicting depending where you get them but one stat that does stand out is that you have to treat around 48 men to save one life. Is this a good use of time and money or could we channel it into other avenues such as public health education and awareness campaigns instead?
To get men into the routine of checked up is a positive move as many men refuse to go for medical advice and often leave it too late before seeking help. But if the false positives that the PSA tests can throw up means unnecessary invasive surgery then perhaps it is doing more harm than good. I’d like to see a wider awareness of things like Bowel, Prostate and Testicular cancer – they are not fashionable or cool in any way but knowledge and understanding the symptoms is the best way for people to be able to know it’s time to seek professional help. Two fantastic websites are Prostate Cancer UK http://prostatecanceruk.org/ and The ICR’s Everyman Campaign http://everyman-campaign.org/ and just by making yourself aware of these issues can help you to help others in your lives.
With Cancer the best way to tackle it is with research and teams of scientists up and down the country are making breakthroughs all the time. There is a good and positive attitude towards the traditional Female Cancers and screening programs and media campaigns have shown to improve survival stats, now we need to see the same in the Male Cancers of Prostate and Testicular and I think the first step is to educate teenagers in schools about Testicular Cancer in the same way Breast and Cervical cancers are discussed and dealt with.
We will continue to have a male population who ignore things if there is not a positive and public discussion linked with Media campaigns. Support charities that carry out research and educate yourself to help both you and those you care about. Cancer is beatable if caught early – I’m living proof of that – so read up and wise up men!