November 18th, 2019

How Technology is helping to educate and detect Prostate Cancer early

Living in a world where technology is ever evolving, we are at the stage where digital platforms can assist and keep track of important health data.

Imagine waking up and being able to check online what your latest results are from tests you had done a few days prior.

With prostate cancer awareness in the spotlight, Full Health Medical is delighted to assist in delivering a programme called Blue Power on behalf of leading Financial Services Group Cornmarket, this programme makes it far easier to access prostate cancer education and assessments. 

In Previous programmes 6,617 men were sent invitations, 1,498 took up the opportunity and of those 206 were then referred for further tests such as MRI’s and Biopsies and 15 were diagnosed with prostate cancer. One participant said,

“The programme encouraged me to have an exam which wouldn’t have happened without it”

Another person who took part in the programme said,

“When I got the invite I felt it was imperative to participate... [it] offers peace of mind.”

Consultant Urologist Richard Power has been assisting with the Blue Power programme for the last three years and said,

“the programme has been very good because it is making men more aware of men’s health in general, in particular prostate disease.”

Dr. Anne Marie Mc Ginley from the Weir Family Clinic in Bandon, Co Cork is one of the participating GPs, she said

“The software has taken away a mountain of paperwork and allows the GP to be 10 times more time efficient including in the process of making the referral.”

That process involves the participant booking an appointment online with a unique invitation code, answering relevant questions on their medical. Participating General Practitioners can then complete the consultation efficiently and where necessary create a referral appointment through the platform. A clear picture is presented via the dashboard as to where the participant is in their referral journey, their progress and also what the next steps are.

The importance of early detection

The early detection of prostate cancer is extremely important, considering it’s the second most common cancer among men in Ireland. Every year, more than 3,000 men are diagnosed with the potentially deadly cancer – meaning 1 in 8 men will have prostate cancer in their lifetime.

But the good news is, 9 in every 10 men diagnosed will survive, according to the Irish Cancer Society. It’s recommended that you get checked for prostate cancer if you are over 50 years of age. Also, you are more likely to be at risk of developing prostate cancer if you have a 1st degree relative who has been diagnosed with prostate or breast cancer. Consultant Urologist Richard Power has told Full Health Medical,

“the sensitivity of our diagnostic tools are improving all the time enabling us to appropriately diagnose and subsequently treat the target male population"

Should you get checked?

There is currently no formal prostate cancer screening programme in Ireland. The National Cancer Control Programme advises men between the age of 50 -70 years have an annual PSA blood test and Digital rectal examination. Mr Power explains that there are around 20% of cases that are detected early that are non-aggressive and therefore don’t need radical treatment, but instead be actively monitored. He said,

“You want to detect prostate cancer in the early stages, so it is curable. When it is at that stage there are generally no symptoms"

Symptoms of prostate enlargement/disease include:

  • Difficulty urinating / stopping and starting
  • Urinating more often, particularly at night time
  • Feeling pain or discomfort when urinating
  • Feeling like you have not completely emptied your bladder
  • Pain in your lower back, hips or upper thighs
  • Trouble keeping an erection
  • Blood in your urine

Mr Power advises men with any of the above symptoms they should consult their General Practicioner. He stresses though

“frequently men with prostate cancer have no symptoms”

Mr Power explains that appropriate counselling and testing of at risk men is of paramount importance. He also explains that approximately 20% of prostate cancer cases that are detected early, are non-aggressive. These men may be suitable for active surveillance and can avoid radical treatment. He said,

“You want to detect prostate cancer in the early stages, so it is curable. When it is at that stage there are generally no symptoms”

Ways to reduce your risk There are a number of simple things you can do to lower your chance of getting prostate cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital when it comes to reducing your risk. According to the ICS, there is research that shows being overweight or obese can increase the risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer. In addition, a balanced and healthy diet will help maintain a healthy weight. Eating fruit, vegetables, wholegrains is suggested. Being physically active is also key by getting at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each day.