22 November 2021

Focus on Men’s Health

Alexis blogs about the importance of men's health checks, in particular for prostate cancer.

Different stages of our lives bring different problems, from teething and nappy rash, through puberty and into later years and the potential health issues we may all face. For men, as they grow older their prostates also grow larger. This results in the typical frequent toilet visits and problems when trying to pee – but could it be more serious than just an “age-thing”?

I think it fair to say that men get a bit of a raw deal when it comes to preventative medicine. Women have been encouraged to have regular cervical smear tests and breast screening for many years. These have proved vital in the early detection of cancer. But prostate health and regular screening for men is non-existent.

A PSA test measures the amount of prostate specific antigens in the blood. While this test alone is not a definitive detector of prostate cancer, regular testing will provide information and an opportunity for early detection, and early detection is key. Prostate cancer is not itself life threatening. It is failed detection that allows the cancer to spread throughout the body and that is the problem. Early detection can save men from the spread of cancer, save them from more serious and unpleasant treatments such as chemotherapy, and ultimately save lives. Men are said to be notoriously bad at seeking medical advice – let’s make that a myth.

Many men experience difficulties in persuading their GP to send them for a PSA test, even when there are compelling reasons. I recently heard of a GP telling a patient they are “not allowed” to offer a PSA test and will only give it if requested. Too many still refuse.

My husband was one of the lucky ones. After much persuasion to get checked, his first PSA result was normal, but a vigilant GP did follow-up tests and detected a rise in the levels. Though still within the normal rage this change prompted further investigations and his prostate cancer was picked up very early – a life saver!

We are currently fighting to retain our National Health Service and to reclaim it from private hands. Many are unaware of how much of the service is now subcontracted and in the hands of the likes of Virgin. As capitalism chips away at all that is good and prevents advances from being used for the benefits of all and not the profits of the few, we have a battle on our hands.