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Prostate cancer – the facts
Men have a small gland below the bladder called the prostate. It surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that carries urine and semen out of the body. The prostate produces a fluid that is an important part of semen. The growth and function of the prostate relies on testosterone, produced by the testes.
The risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older – it is quite rare in men under the age of 50. If there is a history of prostate cancer or breast cancer in your family, you are likely to be at an increased risk.
Symptoms of prostate cancer
Many prostate cancers grow very slowly and may be present for years before they are found. Some cancers are faster-growing and can spread to other parts of the body within a few years.
Very early prostate cancer does not cause any symptoms, and diagnosis at this stage is complicated as benign and cancerous growths can produce similar symptoms, which can include:-
- Having to rush to the toilet to urinate
- Having to urinate more often, particularly at night
- Difficulty urinating, including straining to start and stop
- A feeling of not being able to fully empty the bladder
Diagnosing prostate cancer
Doctors use a test to detect levels of a protein called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which helps work out how likely it is a man will suffer from prostate cancer. PSA can also be raised because of other medical conditions. The test can therefore produce inaccurate results if performed alone.
As part of a national programme, men over the age of 50 can ask their GP for a PSA test. If you are at high risk, you may start having tests before this. In recent years, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer has increased, due to the introduction of the PSA test.
What your doctor should do next
If you have any of these symptoms you should see your GP immediately. When you see your GP, they should perform a rectal examination and they may also do a blood test to check your PSA levels.
If your GP finds anything that could be caused by cancer you should be referred to a hospital for more tests. At hospital, the doctor will usually repeat the rectal examination and PSA test. You may then have a rectal ultrasound.
If your doctor finds a lump or hardening of the prostate, they will take a biopsy so that a sample of cells can be examined under the microscope. You may also have an MRI scan.
Prostate cancer misdiagnosis
The earlier that prostate cancer is diagnosed, the sooner it can be treated appropriately. It is therefore critical that you are diagnosed at the earliest possible point.
In some cases, unfortunately, there may a delay, for example:-
- Where you have had symptoms, and your GP doesn’t examine you or refer you to a specialist for tests
- An abnormal test result isn’t followed up
- A test isn’t reported correctly
- Your symptoms are misdiagnosed as something else
If this happens, Bolt Burdon Kemp’s specialist medical negligence team can provide advice on pursuing a claim.
We know money can never fully compensate in such awful circumstances, but it can help ease of the blow of dealing with such a difficult situation.
In addition to compensation paid for the extra difficulties caused because the cancer is more advanced due to medical negligence, private medical treatment and care costs which would otherwise be unnecessary can also be recovered.