Help us find the missing men

17 June 2021

Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance supports Prostate Cancer UK in their drive to raise awareness of the condition and encourage men who are at highest risk to contact their GP.  

Men at greatest risk include those over 50 (the risk increases the older you get), black men, and men with a close family history of the disease (for example, a brother or father who had prostate cancer).  Recent research has also suggested that obesity increases the risk of developing faster-growing prostate cancers.

Men can find out more about their risk by using the Prostate Cancer UK online risk checker. Since September 2020 over 140,000 men have completed this and been given advice about their own risk and what they should do next.

'It's a no-brainer'

Chris Wheal, 77, from Maidstone, has been treated successfully for prostate cancer and adds his voice to the call for men not to be shy.

He said: “Prostate cancer is very treatable if caught early; not delaying, getting checked if you’re high risk, and if needs be, getting treated is a total no brainer.  Treatment options are varied but my experience was that it was nothing worse than a bit inconvenient, which pales into insignificance when potentially halting cancer in its tracks.”

Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK. Early diagnosis saves lives and greatly improves cancer survival rates. However, urgent referrals by GPs have dropped by around 52,000 nationally since the pandemic began. As a result, around 8,600 fewer men started treatment for prostate cancer in 2020 compared with the previous year.

Unless these ‘missing men’ are found, they risk being diagnosed too late, when their cancer is advanced or incurable.  

NHS is here to help

Dr Tina George, a GP and Early Diagnosis Lead for the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance, said: “We understand that many men may feel embarrassed about talking to their GP about this, or about the prospect of being examined by a doctor.  

“However, it is important that men understand if they are at higher risk of prostate cancer because early diagnosis saves lives.  We back the advice from Prostate Cancer UK for patients to make contact with their GP and have that first conversation. Sadly, we see many cases where men have been too shy to come forward and their cancer is more advanced when it is finally diagnosed, making it more difficult to treat. The NHS is here to support you – please don’t delay getting help if you need it.”

Prostate cancer usually develops slowly so, unlike other cancers, there may be no signs for many years.

 Find out more about prostate cancer on the NHS website.

Patient Chris Wheal says checking out your risk of prostate cancer is a 'total no-brainer.' He is pictured ringing the bell to mark the end of his treatment at Kent Oncology Centre.

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