Movember Blog from Doctor Dominic Patterson

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In the queue, people gathered in small clusters as much for warmth as company. The queue itself snaked out of the crematorium, and as the ceremony began it became more of a throng around the entrance as people politely jostled and arranged themselves to try and hear what was going on inside. A silent, large crowd, gathered to pay their respects. The sort you tend only to see when
someone has been taken well before their time.

Steve was 42 when he died from prostate cancer. As I stood afterwards with the small group of us who had played football with him, our talk turned to how unfair it all was. How devastating to see his family left behind. But also, to whether we should have noticed or done something sooner. Had he gone to the GP when he should? Had the NHS done all it could for him? Steve had stopped playing the previous year because of severe back pain. Many of us were from medical backgrounds. Had we missed something? Should we have done something different? It never occurred to us that it could be something so serious.

Prostate cancer rates are increasing in young men and, when diagnosed in this age group, is usually at a stage where survival rates are much lower than for older men.

Symptoms of prostate cancer

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
  • needing to rush to the toilet
  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • weak flow
  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • blood in urine or blood in semen.
  • These symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer. Many men’s prostates get larger as they get older because of a non-cancerous condition called benign prostate enlargement.
  • Back pain is an unusual symptom in prostate cancer and is suggestive of cancer that has spread. It is important to realise that almost all men with back pain will not have a serious cause for this and will not have a problem with their prostate.

Some features of back pain that are worrying and mean you should contact us

  • constant pain day and night
  • pain that is worse or that keeps you up at night
  • problems with balance or walking
  • problems controlling your bladder or bowels
  • numbness tingling or weakness in the arms, legs or chest

Other symptoms that might suggest a serious problem and where you should contact us urgently

  • loss of appetite
  • pain in the testicles
  • unintentional weight loss

The male GPs at the practice are taking part in Movember to raise awareness of men’s health problems. So, when I look in the mirror and am tempted to shave off my disconcerting moustache, I think of Steve. I think of other men – patients and friends – lost too young to prostate cancer, testicular cancer or suicide.

Please, if you are worried about your health, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will do everything we can to help. It’s what we are here for.