The Prostate Cancer Foundation is proud to be partnering with some of New Zealand’s leading organisations – Breast Cancer Aotea Coalition, Bowel Cancer New Zealand, Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, Cure Our Ovarian Cancer, Lung Foundation and the NZ Gynaecological Cancer Foundation – reminding Kiwis that it is safe to return to their doctors. The risks of COVID-19 have not changed the risks of prostate cancer. Regular checks are even more important now. #NewNormalSameCancer
The global pandemic that hit us in 2020 has turned our lives upside down and forced us to change how we do many everyday things – including how we get medical treatment and testing.
In fact, normal medical care and cancer screenings saw a 40% drop in diagnoses around the globe in 2020, in the UK over two million people deferred cancer screenings in the first ten weeks of the pandemic, and in New Zealand, diagnostic services were also severely impacted
This delay in medical care can have major implications when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of all cancers. This includes prostate cancer.
Covid-19 restrictions in our country have resulted in significantly fewer men being diagnosed with prostate cancer, which in turn means many more men have missed getting their regular screening, or occasional prostate checks at their GP.
While a decrease in testing means a drop in the number of cancer diagnoses – that doesn’t mean a drop in the number of cases. Instead, people may be going undiagnosed until their cancer reaches a later stage when it may be less treatable and survival rates are low.
In New Zealand, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men – there are around 3,500 registrations each year and about 600 deaths from prostate cancer each year, based on the statistics from the Ministry of Health.
Men who develop prostate cancer are mostly over the age of 65.
Some men are more at risk of getting prostate cancer than others, but the most important risk factor is ageing. Men with a family history of prostate cancer have a higher risk; that is, if the father, an uncle or a brother has had prostate cancer.
There is no single test to detect prostate cancer. The two most common tests are the prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and the digital rectal examination (DRE). Both of these tests are safe to have and could save your life, so it’s crucial that if you’re considered at risk, are due screening or have any symptoms that you see your doctor straight away.
In the early stages of prostate cancer there may be no symptoms at all, in the later stages, some symptoms of prostate cancer might include: Feeling the frequent or sudden need to urinate, finding it difficult to urinate (for example, trouble starting or not being able to urinate when the feeling is there or poor urine flow), discomfort when urinating, finding blood in urine or semen and pain in the lower back, upper thighs or hips.
These symptoms may not mean you have prostate cancer, but if you experience any of them, go and see your doctor.
Early detection of prostate cancer usually leads to better outcomes, so this message is a wake-up call to men, if you missed getting checked – please don’t delay. The risks of COVID-19 have not changed the risks of prostate cancer. Regular checks are even more important now.
Don’t wait. Contact your doctor. Get checked.