The recent high-profile celebrity cases of Stephen Fry and Bill Turnbull involving prostate cancer has highlighted the importance of a yearly male MOT test. Prostate cancer is the deadliest cancer in men, being responsible for 10,900 deaths every year in the UK. The incidence rates for prostate cancer are expected to rise by 12% in the UK between 2014 and 2035.
Ultimately 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.
No one is immune. You need to get it checked.
What to ask for …
Since watching Stephen Fry’s video and learning of Bill Turnbull’s plight I (hastened by my wife of course) made an appointment to see my doctor for a health MOT. I am over 50 now and – like Bill – I take pride in not needing to visit the GP very often. However, I think it’s a really good idea to book a check up, just-in-case.
The trouble is, a health MOT usually means just blood pressure, weight and a stern talking to from a concerned nurse. It doesn’t routinely involve prostate health. So it’s important to request basic blood tests, including the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, to provide a decent snapshot of your prostate, liver, kidneys, blood sugar and quite a few other things too. The discussion I had with my health centre highlighted my concern about prostate cancer and they booked me in accordingly for bloods to be taken and a follow-up to discuss results and further action.
I must admit I felt a little pensive while I waited for the results appointment to come through. On the day my GP was very friendly and dealt with all the results one at a time to discuss any lifestyle changes that would help improve things. The PSA test was low, thank goodness. So there was no problem.
Many people believe the PSA test is not very accurate. However, as the GP explained, over a period of time it can provide a good profile of prostate activity and show any small progression. The GP actually offered me the physical prostate examination as well. As I was there I had that done to just to be sure. I think it is something that men have to get used to (in much the same way as our wives have smear tests – not pleasant, but a potential lifesaver). There is no embarrassment and its worth it, if only for peace of mind.
Men, please, get your prostate checked if you are approaching 50, or older. Make the call and book the appointment for routine blood tests. I watched my uncle fade away over a matter of a few months; he was diagnosed with prostate cancer that had progressed to bone cancer. 1 in 8 men will get it – that’s potentially two of the boys out of your school class.
Keep it checked.