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Prostate and Ovarian Cancer Awareness



Throughout the month of March, men, women, charities and medical professionals united in a bid to raise awareness of Prostate and Ovarian cancer. We've highlighted some of the most common symptoms, effects and treatments relating to two of the UK's most dangerous cancer types.

UK survival rates of Ovarian cancer rank amongst the worst in Europe, with 75 per cent of women diagnosed only once the cancer has spread, hence why raising awareness is crucial to encourage women to seek regular checks.

Similarly, Prostate cancer has proven to be one of the deadliest cancers affecting men in the UK. Read our guide to the most common symptoms of the two cancer types, as well as the advances in research and treatments in recent years.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK, with the NHS reporting up to 40,000 new cases each year. Prostate cancer takes the life of over 10,000 UK males ever year, with men aged 50 and over the worst affected.

The prostate itself is a walnut-sized gland located in the pelvis, surrounding the tube that carries urine form the bladder to the penis, known as the urethra.

As men grow older their prostate gland often enlarges, a process known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. If the prostate is cancerous, however, it is known as a malignant prostatic hyperplasia. Both carry similar symptoms, which is why it's important to get regular examinations in order to identify potential threats.

The most common symptoms include passing urine more often than usual, both during the day and at night. Passing urine in general may also become more difficult, you can also experience the sense of being unable to fully empty your bladder.

Having blood in your urine or experiencing pain whilst urinating can also be a symptom of cancer, however, in the majority of cases it is are caused by something else completely – another reason to see your GP as soon as possible if you experience any of these symptoms.

As with any form of cancer, the key to combating the disease lies in identifying symptoms as early as possible. The reason why older men are urged to undergo checks is down to the fact that the early stages of prostate cancer often show no symptoms at all, as the tumour may be too small to have a physical impact on your body.

Whether you experience symptoms or not, there is no harm in consulting your GP to find out more about prostate cancer, as well as the various tests which are available.

Ovarian cancer

The female body contains two ovaries (one on each side of the body) which form part of the reproduction system. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer type in the UK, affecting more than 6,500 women each year.

Women over the age of 50 are most commonly affected; however, it is by no means restricted to a particular age group.

The most common symptoms to look out for are:

  • Frequent pain in your pelvis and abdomen
  • A persistently bloated abdomen
  • Frequent bouts of nausea and loss of appetite/feeling full quickly
  • Passing urine more frequently than usual

It is important to note that the above symptoms are similar or sometimes identical to that of other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, so seeking the assistance of your GP is crucial in order to correctly identify your condition.

If the cancer develops into a more advanced stage then symptoms can include back pain and constipation. Even these symptoms, however, may not necessarily be the result of cancerous cells, so it is important to book an appointment with your GP to address any concerns you may have.

Potential treatments include surgery, chemotherapy and occasionally radiotherapy.

Medical advancements: Combating prostate and ovarian cancer

Cancer remains one of the biggest killers in the UK and indeed worldwide. Medical practitioners and researchers, however, are continuously working to find new ways to combat the disease and have made significant inroads in recent years.

Survival rates in the UK are improving and mortality rates have decreased since the early 1990s.

This is in part down to advancements in treatments such as radiotherapy, as well as early diagnosis through PSA (prostate-specific antigen) testing. PSA is a substance released into your bloodstream consisting of both normal and cancerous prostate cells. In the event of prostate cancer, PSA levels may increase – hence why the test can assist in diagnosing your condition.

The early testing method is particularly vital, and although medical experts acknowledge that PSA tests do on some occasions fail to detect certain cancers, it does none the less act as a good indicator. The same applies to CT and MRI scans.

Researchers also believe vitamins and nutrients found in certain foods can help lower the risk of prostate cancer. These include:

  • Soy foods such as soy milk, soy yoghurt and tofu
  • Tomatoes – a compound known as lycopene found in tomatoes has been found to be beneficial in lowering prostate cancer risks
  • Cruciferous vegetables including spinach, cabbage and broccoli

In addition to radiotherapy, researchers in Europe have also undergone trials using high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) which eliminate cancer cells through the use of ultrasonic beams. The method is currently only being used as part of trials in the US which aim to determine its overall safety.

Chemotherapy, hormone therapy and steroids may also be used as part of the treatment process, depending on the severity of the cancer.


Sources
http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/type/prostate-cancer/about/prostate-cancer-symptoms
http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-ovary/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/Cancer-of-the-prostate/Pages/Introduction.aspx
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostatecancer/detailedguide/prostate-cancer-new-research
http://prostatecanceruk.org/information/who-is-at-risk/can-i-reduce-my-risk
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24761675



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