Wales

Prostate cancer: Help to improve 'disheartening' awareness levels

Prostate cancer cells Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men

Help to improve the "disheartening" levels of prostate cancer awareness has been launched by a charity.

The online course for GPs from Prostate Cymru is aimed at helping them diagnose and treat it quicker.

It comes after one urologist said the "minimal" information currently available was "disheartening".

Cancer of the prostate - which is a small gland in the pelvis - affects one in eight men in Wales.

A Welsh Government spokesman said guidance was available to support GPs on testing for it.

The new module has been accredited by the Royal College of General Practitioners and Prostate Cymru hopes it will ultimately be available to medical students and the public.

Janine David, a GP in Porthcawl, Bridgend county, said: "Men are notoriously bad at researching health or seeking advice from doctors, so when they do it is so imperative that we as physicians are mindful of the risk factors and offer testing for this increasingly prevalent cancer."

She said greater awareness was also needed before medical students became practitioners, adding: "I think current training of GPs needs to have more information on men's health on the whole, not just prostate cancer."

Andy Thomas, chairman of Prostate Cymru and a consultant urological surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, said: "It is quite disheartening that there is a minimal amount of information readily available about the disease in comparison to other cancers."

A similar online module is available to GPs in England, but this is the first bespoke service for GPs in Wales.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "Guidance is available to support GPs on testing for prostate cancer and our Framework for Cancer supports primary care in the diagnosis and management of cancers."

'Too macho'

Image copyright Ian Norton
Image caption Ian Norton, pictured with his wife Andrea, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2016

Ian Norton, 68, from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, who was diagnosed with the disease two years ago, said he knew very little about it, until he did some research and visited his GP.

The results of an MRI scan showed that he had an enlarged prostate and early stage cancer.

"I have always led a healthy and sporty life and thought I was invincible, but then I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and reality kicked in with a very big boot," he said.

"Men are either too macho or embarrassed to talk about things like this.

"We need to help them realise it is an important issue."

What is prostate cancer?

It is cancer of the prostate which is a small gland in the pelvis, found only in men.

According to NHS Direct Wales, the disease develops slowly and there may be no obvious signs for many years.

The causes are largely unknown, but the chances of developing it increase over the age of 50.

It is the most common cancer among men with 40,000 new cases diagnosed across the UK every year.

Last year, the number of men dying of prostate cancer overtook the number of female deaths from breast cancer.

A recent report by the charity, Orchard, said that the late diagnosis of four in ten patients in the UK was a "worrying trend".

The biggest cancer killers in the UK remain bowel and lung cancer.

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