Men’s Health Week: a call to action for prostate awareness and overall wellbeing

Dr Esther ApplebyGP in south east London
10 Jun 2024
NHS South East London

In the UK, one in five men dies before reaching the age of 65. Certain groups, including those who are unemployed and men from specific ethnic backgrounds, are more at risk than others. Men’s Health Week aims to address this by giving all boys and men the information and support they need to live healthier, longer and more fulfilling lives.

Let’s talk about prostates and everything else men’s health

As men age, many experience issues with their prostate gland. This year, Men’s Health Week aims to shed light on three common prostate conditions: prostate enlargement, prostate cancer and prostatitis. The NHS website explains what the prostate gland does and where it is in men.

Understanding prostate conditions

Prostate enlargement is a very common condition associated with ageing. Research suggests that more than 1 in 3 men over 50 will have some symptoms related to prostate enlargement. This can include changes to usual patterns of urination, such as needing to pee more frequently or suddenly. The symptoms of prostate enlargement are similar to those of prostate cancer as well as prostatitis, so it’s important to see your GP if you notice any issues. It’s worth noting that prostate cancer may also not cause any symptoms at all.

In the UK, prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men – with around 30,000 new cases diagnosed every year. The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age, family history and can also be affected by ethnicity. For example, Black men have a one in four chance of getting prostate cancer compared to one in eight chance for White men. For this reason, it’s recommended that Black men and those with a family history of prostate cancer go to their GP for a PSA blood test from the age of 45. A PSA blood test can help identify those men who need more investigations. Men do not have to have a rectal examination before having this test and it’s important to know the pros and cons of having a PSA test before getting it done. You can do this by talking to your GP, checking the NHS website or using the Prostate Cancer UK online Risk Checker.

Unlike prostate enlargement or prostate cancer, which usually affect older men, prostatitis can develop in men of all ages. Prostatitis is inflammation of the prostate and can be serious, so it’s important for men to get it checked out. Symptoms can include pain when peeing or ejaculating.

Taking action for your health

If you have any symptoms related to prostate issues it is important to get an appointment with your GP. A simple prostate check can make all the difference in detecting potential issues early. For more information visit the ‘Men’s Health Forum’ website.