A leading testing specialist says he has detected an 8% jump in cases of previously unidentified prostate cancer this year, mirroring research conducted by Prostate Cancer UK.
The leading blood testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘In our testing we’ve seen a notable 8% jump this year in previously undetected cases, very possibly because people with mild symptoms may have put off visiting doctors during Covid. It’s vital men present as early as possible when noticing any indications.
‘It’s also concerning that men don’t realise that having a father or close relative with the disease significantly increases their chances of developing it. New research from the US Prostate Cancer Foundation shows 58% of prostate cancer is driven by genetic factors. Men who have a close relative with prostate cancer may be twice as likely to develop the disease, while those with two or more relatives may be nearly four times as likely to be diagnosed. Crucially, the risk looks to be significantly higher if your father or close relative was diagnosed before the age of 60.
‘Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in the UK with 1 in 8 men developing it, but men are hiding their heads in the sand over the disease. The prostate produces a fluid that mixes with sperm to make semen. Particularly as men get older, issues with the prostate are common and can lead to cancer if undiagnosed.
‘The most recent UK figures available reveal 57,192 new cases. For the first time, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Britain, ahead of breast cancer (57,153) and lung cancer (48,054). In 2020, Prostate Cancer UK reported the number of men dying from prostate cancer in the UK had exceeded 12,000 in one year for the first time.
‘Of most concern, 42% of men don’t want to visit the doctor even when they observe the first signs, such as having to wee more frequently in the night, reduced flow or blood in their urine. They put off visiting until their symptoms worsen, even though the NHS says catching prostate cancer at stages 1 and 2 has a near 100% success rate, as opposed to around 50% at stage 4.
‘One way to help slow the tide of increasing prostate cancer deaths is by making it easier for those men who are unwilling to visit their doctor to get tested for the disease. An at-home finger-prick prostate blood test can cut out the hassle and embarrassment of a GP visit and reassure men, or alert them to a possible problem. At home blood tests also mean men without symptoms can test themselves regularly if their father or close relatives developed the disease at a young age.
‘The blood tests check the levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA). A high PSA can indicate problems with the prostate gland. Of course, a PSA test cannot be solely relied on to either confirm or exclude the presence of prostate cancer. However, it is a good indicator. If a PSA reading is high, then you will need further investigations with a urologist.
‘PSA is found in two forms in the blood: bound PSA which is bound to proteins in the blood, and free PSA which isn’t bound to proteins. Some studies have shown that if the free PSA makes up more than 25% of a man’s total PSA, he is at lower risk of having prostate cancer. Equally, men with a lower percentage of free PSA may be at higher risk of having prostate cancer.
‘London Medical Laboratory’s own Prostate Profile blood test kit looks at three key biomarkers to determine these levels: Total Prostate Specific Antigen, Free Prostate Specific Antigen and Free Total PSA. The Prostate Profile finger-prick blood test can be taken at home through the post, making life easier for ‘surgery-shy’ men. It can also be taken at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London, the southeast and selected pharmacies and health stores across the UK.’