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Men’s cancers and mental wellness

The combination of Covid-19, the lockdown, and guidance from the NHS about reducing the number of face-to-face appointments has had a profound impact on the number of face-to-face GP consultations being conducted.

Despite an increasing number of telephone/online consultations, Cancer Research UK says that thousands fewer people than expected are being referred for hospital tests that might diagnose cancer and save lives.

Part of the problem could be that some people – including men with prostate cancer symptoms – are reluctant to come forward because of worries about going into hospital for tests or treatment.

If you’re worried about your symptoms, don’t be put off visiting your GP for advice. There are some early cancer diagnostic tests your family doctor can do without you having to visit a hospital. And, if you do need to have further tests and treatment, getting started as soon as possible can make all the difference to your long-term health.

Warning signs and symptoms of testicular cancer

  • Some men with cancer of the testicles will have no symptoms at all
  • But if you feel a lump on a testicle, or your testicle is swollen, it’s a good idea to get it checked by your doctor
  • Some men may also notice pain or an ache in the lower abdomen or scrotum

If you have lower back pain, chest pain, a cough (that may contain blood), tummy pains, and/or headaches and feelings of confusion, get checked as soon as possible as these may be symptoms of more advanced testicular cancer.

If you’re worried about your symptoms, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

Warning signs and symptoms of prostate cancer

Early-stage prostate cancer has no symptoms – so it can help to understand your level of risk

  • You’re most at risk if you are over 50; of African-Caribbean origin; with a father or brother with prostate cancer. Any one of these raises your risk of prostate cancer.
  • If you have problems peeing, this could be a sign of an enlarged prostate (a non-cancerous health condition), but you should still see your GP.
  • If you experience back, hip, or pelvic pains; problems getting or keeping an erection; blood in your urine or semen; or unexplained/unintended weight loss, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.

GP surgeries and hospitals are all taking the strictest measures to protect their patients from Covid-19 infection. But, if you’re worried about your symptoms, don’t be put off seeing your GP. The sooner prostate cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and the better your chances of recovery.

Testicular cancer and prostate cancer

All men can reduce their chances of missing testicular cancer by regularly examining their testicles for any changes such as swelling, lumps, or pain. If you notice anything different, it’s essential to see your GP as soon as possible.

It’s reassuring to know that, if you are diagnosed with testicular cancer, it’s one of the most treatable types of cancer. And if you’re concerned that having a testicle removed (the most common treatment) will affect your fertility or your ability to maintain an erection, you can relax.

Testicular cancer is relatively rare, accounting for around 1% of all cancers that affect men. But it’s the most common cancer affecting men between the ages of 20 and 45. In the UK, some 2,300 men are diagnosed with the condition every year. For more information about testicular cancer, visit this NHS site.

Prostate cancer, on the other hand, is now the most diagnosed cancer – more common than breast cancer. However, Prostate Cancer UK, the charity founded in 1996 by Professor Jonathan Waxman, calculates that as many as 27,000 men may have missed seeing a specialist urologist since March 2020 – the most significant drop in referrals for suspected cancer in years – and so their symptoms remain undiagnosed and any cancer untreated. This might be because many men are anxious about having a diagnosis of prostate cancer, as well as visiting a hospital during high levels of Covid-19.

To help you find out if you’re at risk, Prostate Cancer UK has developed a simple risk checking tool that can help you decide whether you should make an appointment to see your GP. If you do see a GP, they may recommend that you have some initial diagnostic tests such as a PSA blood test, and/or a digital rectal examination (DRE). Both these checks can be done in the doctor’s surgery – they don’t require a hospital visit.

A PSA (or prostate-specific antigen) blood test is a quick and easy way to detect early signs of cancer so you can get treated quickly if necessary. But it isn’t perfect. It can sometimes give a ‘false positive’ reading. In fact, 3 in every 4 men with a raised level of PSA will not have cancer. And it can also miss cancer in some patients. But it is a quick and easy test that can detect early signs of cancer and help more men get treated in good time if additional tests are positive for cancer.

Timon Colegrove was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018. Today he is free of cancer and its treatment side-effects. Read Timon’s story here.

Timon’s Story

Timon’s Story

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