Prostate cancer: Dr Hilary outlines signs and symptoms
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Collaborative research between the University of East Anglia (UEA), Imperial College NHS Healthcare Trust, and Oxford Biodynamics previously discovered that prostate cancer tumours leave a genetic imprint on blood cells. Now, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, there could be scope to improve cancer diagnostics. Professor Dmitry Pshezhetskiy, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, addressed the “racial disparity in prostate cancer”, stating that “black patients are twice as likely to develop the disease and die of it than white men”.
Professor Pshezhetskiy added: “Recent research shows that this staggering racial difference for prostate cancer diagnosis and mortality is due to genetic differences, but their exact nature is currently not known.
“We want to create a fundamentally new, highly accurate genetic blood test for prostate cancer in black men, taking into account their genetic diversity.
“Developing tailored genetic testing is really important because getting an early diagnosis allows better treatment.”
The professor continued: “The five-year survival rate for men diagnosed with stage one prostate cancer is 100 percent, compared with only 50 percent for those with stage four cancer.”
Prostate cancer diagnostics
The NHS pointed out that there is “no single, definitive test for prostate cancer” right now.
Testing might involve a blood and urine sample, a physical rectal examination, and an MRI scan.
Doctor Naomi Elster, director of research at Prostate Cancer Research, commented on current diagnostic practises.
“There is a real need for a new way to diagnose prostate cancer, as the PSA blood test we currently use is not as accurate as we want.
“Rectal exams are invasive and people understandably are not comfortable with them.
“And imaging techniques such as MRI require specialist equipment that may not always be available.”
If, however, you are experiencing symptoms of prostate cancer, do book an appointment with your doctor.
Prostate cancer symptoms
Symptoms of prostate cancer can include:
- Needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
- Needing to rush to the toilet
- Difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
- Straining or taking a long time while peeing
- Weak flow
- Feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
- Blood in urine or blood in semen.
These symptoms could also be indicative of another benign condition known as an enlarged prostate.
While this condition is not cancerous, treatments can help to relieve troublesome symptoms.
Either way, getting the ball rolling when it comes to investigating any underlying health issues is ideal.
If a tumour is found, depending on its size and whether it has spread, the healthcare team can provide the best treatment options available.
As with any type of cancerous lesion, the sooner a diagnosis is made, the better the chances of a successful recovery.
Treatment options could include active surveillance of the tumour, surgery, radiotherapy, or brachytherapy, or hormone therapy.
“You may decide against treatment for prostate cancer, particularly if you are at an age where you feel treating the cancer is unlikely to significantly extend your life expectancy,” the NHS added.
The research project into the genetic diagnostic tool has been made possible thanks to a grant provided by Prostate Cancer Research.
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