Ready to chill out on a Friday evening I sit (dinner on lap) switch on the T.V and what should I find? Davina McCall rooting around the back passage of a mannequin doll live on Channel 4. Was I shocked? Surprised? Disgusted? Not at all. With the influx of reality television there is very little on the box that many of us now find offensive or out of place. However, this was not a clip from the latest series of a popular T.V show. In fact, this was a very informative and educational part of the charity T.V marathon, Stand Up 2 Cancer.
The most common cancer in men, every year 40 000 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed just in the UK. Yet, in recent years it has been widely publicised how men are reluctant to see their doctors if they feel “under the weather”. Surveys have shown women are twice as likely to consult a doctor than their male counterparts if they feel they may be ill or sense something may be wrong. Cancer survival rates in the UK are among the poorest in the world between both men and women who are, for one reason or another disinclined to visit their GP. In some cases this can mean illnesses such as cancer are diagnosed late.
The location of the prostate gland. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
The prostate is an exocrine gland found exclusively in men and a little larger than a walnut. It constitutes around 30% of a males ejaculate. The milky white fluid it produces protects and sustains sperm during intercourse. Generally, as men age (normally over 50) the prostate enlarges naturally and in most cases this isn’t problematic.
The direct cause of prostate cancer is largely unknown. However, scientists believe both genetics and environmental risk factors can play a role in the development of the disease. For example, a son whose father has had prostate cancer has double the risk of developing it himself. This is compared to the risk of having a first degree relative who hasn’t had the disease. Around 5% of the total diagnoses of prostate cancer are inherited. Symptoms of prostate cancer can include needing to urinate more often particularly during the night, feeling the “urge” but not able to go, weak flow whilst urinating or not feeling like your bladder is empty. However, in every day terms these are exactly the sorts of subjects men don’t enjoy telling other people about, making it difficult to seek help if they think there may be a problem. This is why the channel 4 campaign and live broadcast had such an effect on myself. Even though it was clearly a mannequin and not the man who was awkwardly lying on the bed pretending to be examined. Today we are so accustomed to watching celebrities eating all sorts of insects on T.V or getting up to all sorts of unruly behaviour on popular shows why shouldn’t we be watching and educating ourselves about our own health. De-stigmatising tests such as the rectal examination will help to save lives in the not so distant future.
I have embedded the video below for you to watch and help promote awareness.