Prostate cancer is common with advancing age and usually presents with symptoms quite late, if at all. It usually develops slowly and the patient remains asymptomatic until it’s at an advanced stage. Therefore, it is important for men over the age of 60 to have their prostate gland checked regularly. This can be done by your regular GP who does a physical examination of the gland, assessing for any irregularities or masses, as well as a basic blood test. This blood test is called a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) and when significantly raised, indicates suspicion of prostate cancer and that further investigation is needed. This screening is both sensitive and specific for prostate cancer and should be part of any older man health screening. If detected early, prostate cancer is easily managed with either medication or surgery, and patients rarely die from the cancer, unless they present when it’s at a very advanced stage or has spread. This highlights the importance of screening to pick it up early!
Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. It mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women. Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include: feeling constantly bloated, a swollen tummy, discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area, feeling full quickly when eating, needing to pee more often than normal. The symptoms aren’t always easy to recognise because they’re like those of some more common conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). It’s important to see your GP if you’ve been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks or if you have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that won’t go away – especially if you’re over 50 or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, as you may be at a higher risk. It’s unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to check. Your GP can do some simple tests for ovarian cancer to see if you might have it. If you’ve already seen your GP and your symptoms continue or get worse, go back to them and explain this, they may need to refer you for further investigation at a gynaecologist. – Dr Jo-Anne Strul.