"Prostate cancer runs in my family but it was still a shock"

Did you know that having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man's risk of developing the disease? In the UK, around one-in-eight men will develop prostate cancer at some point in their lives. For black men, it doubles to one-in-four.

Here two men diagnosed with prostate cancer share their stories...

Fitz, a youth support worker from Milton Keynes, was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 54 in 2013. Fitz, who is originally from Jamaica and moved to the UK in 1992, knew he was at greater risk of developing the disease, but the diagnosis still came as a shock.

Fitz explains: "My father sadly died of prostate cancer in 2006, and as a black man with a family history of the disease, I was aware that I was at increased risk and visited my local surgery annually to have a Man MOT which includes a PSA blood test.

"However, despite knowing that I was more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer - at the young age of 54, my diagnosis still came as a tremendous shock as I was in very good physical health and I found it incredibly difficult to come to terms with.

"I decided to have surgery to remove my prostate - I was aware of the various treatment options available as I had helped my father through his treatment years previously. Following the surgery I am still on hormone therapy to keep the cancer at bay, and I've turned my efforts to raising awareness of the disease amongst Black men like myself who have a one-in-four chance of developing the disease."

See also: Men and cancer - symptoms you should never ignore

Real life prostate cancer stories continues after video

Prostate Cancer Detection and Treatment

Rod, 61, who's retired and lives in Dorset, only found out that prostate cancer runs in his family after he was diagnosed in June 2014.

Rod says: "For five years I experienced problems going to the toilet and found it difficult to stand up while urinating so would need to sit down. It was not originally picked up that I had problems with the prostate, but I knew something was up, and my urinating problems became worse and somewhat isolating.

"Initially it was thought that my symptoms were due to having an enlarged prostate – which can happen as a man gets older. However eventually after a number of tests it was confirmed that I did in fact have prostate cancer.

"When I discovered this I thought 'Why me, is my time up now?'. The whole bus journey home from the hospital I was deep in thought. I was angry, I became a very angry person.

"I was given a number of treatment options. I opted for surgery – and luckily as the cancer was still confined within the prostate there was a strong chance that treatment could be successful. I'm happy to say that despite some side effects, it certainly looks like the cancer has been wiped out.

"Since my diagnosis I have discovered that I had a family history of prostate cancer that I was unaware of. My father and both of his brothers died from the disease – which put me in a higher risk category straight away. It is really important that men are aware of prostate cancer, their risk and potential symptoms, so that more people can catch it in time as I have done."

Are you at risk?
Men aged 50 or over, men with a family history of prostate cancer and black men are at greater risk of developing prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer that's contained within the prostate (called localised prostate cancer or early prostate cancer) doesn't usually cause any symptoms. But some men might have some urinary problems. These can be mild and happen over many years and may be a sign of a benign prostate problem, rather than prostate cancer.

Changes to look out for include:
  • Needing to urinate more often than usual, including at night, for example if you often need to go again two hours later
  • Difficulty starting to urinate
  • Straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • A weak flow when you urinate
  • A feeling that you're not emptying your bladder fully
  • Needing to rush to the toilet – sometimes leaking before you get there
  • Dribbling urine after you finish

Less common symptoms include:
  • Pain when urinating
  • Pain when ejaculating
  • Blood in your urine or semen

If you're worried about your risk or are experiencing any symptoms, visit your GP or speak to Prostate Cancer UK's specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383.

Three books you may find interesting:

Healthy Eating: The Prostate Care Cookbook, £12.99

An ABC of Prostate Cancer in 2015, £10.75

Thrive Don't Only Survive: Dr.Geo's Guide to Living Your Best Life Before & After Prostate Cancer, £11.90
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