Every March, Prostate Cancer UK does a fantastic job promoting Prostate Cancer Awareness Month - which is crucial to helping raise the profile of a disease that affects 1 in 8 men over the age of 50.
When it comes to prostate cancer, building awareness and understanding of the condition is key.
Caught early enough, it’s one of the most treatable forms of cancer - with an average survival rate of more than 90% according to Cancer Research UK.
Unfortunately for a small number of people with the condition, late diagnosis, misdiagnosis or delayed treatment can have a devastating impact.
This article looks briefly at the significance of early action, the importance of assessing treatment options and what support is available should you feel your prostate cancer could have been dealt with quicker or differently.
Get it early
According to Prostate Cancer UK, over 44,000 British men are diagnosed with the condition and around 10,500 die as a result of the cancer every year.
The speed with which it spreads varies from person to person, which means there can sometimes be a limited window of opportunity to identify and treat it.
With such strong chances of overcoming prostate cancer when caught early, it’s tragic that there are still many terminal cases. Part of the challenge we all face is that prostate cancer can be symptomless…meaning that by the time the it has been detected, it can unfortunately be too late.
It’s therefore essential that men get themselves checked at regular intervals - particularly those who are over 50, or with a family history of the condition. Any changes in urine function (frequency of urination, straining or discomfort) and any blood in urine or semen could also indicate that there is an issue.
We really can’t stress how vital it is to talk to your GP about the full range of things to look out for, and to report any changes as soon as possible.
Know your options
If faced with a prostate cancer diagnosis, you need to ensure you are aware of the full range of options available to you and that your GP or consultant provides clear information about the risks and benefits of each.
There are a broad range of treatments - from hormone therapy to surgery. In other cases, immediate action may not be deemed necessary, with close monitoring of the cancer required before a decision is made on the best route forward.
In any situation it’s important that medical professionals give you the all the facts you need to make informed decisions about your own treatment - and it’s vital that you understand and consider the implications of each.
You are always within your rights to question your GP’s or consultant’s advice, or seek a second opinion if you feel uncomfortable with their diagnosis, recommendations or general approach.
It’s your body and your life…so being understanding the options available to you is essential.
The impact of delay
In the majority of cases, treatment of prostate cancer can be relatively straight forward and doesn’t have the same impact on patients’ lives it once did.
However, it’s important to be aware that sometimes things can go wrong.
Symptoms may be mistaken for other conditions, or likewise, may be misidentified as prostate cancer where there is another cause.
Misdiagnosis can result in avoidable delays in treatment, giving the cancer an opportunity to spread, which may lead to increased suffering and a reduced chance of recovery.
If you experience a delay in referral to hospital for prostate cancer tests, or the condition is misdiagnosed by a healthcare professional, you may have to undergo more invasive treatment or experience other negative side effects as a result of the delay.
The emotional and physical toll of misdiagnosis or avoidable treatment delays can be difficult to comprehend for those not affected, and devastating for those who are.
While thankfully misdiagnosis is increasingly rare due to GPs’ focus on early referral for investigations and the use of advanced MRI scanners, each individual’s situation is different. With over 44,000 diagnoses of prostate cancer every year, errors sometimes occur.
If you did not get the support you think you should have, either due to an avoidable delay or inappropriate treatment, it’s important that you know there is help is available when seeking redress.
Your Legal Friend’s expertise in handling negligence claims around cancer cannot fix what’s gone wrong, but it can help you manage the impact it has on both you and your family.
From talking you through your situation and helping identify and understand a potential case, to supporting you every step of the way through a medical negligence claim, the experienced team at Your Legal Friend is here to support you.
If you would like to discuss your situation confidentially, please call 0808 159 6456