A large number of prostate cancer patients never even find out they have the illness. This is because it generally affects the aged, who dismiss the symptoms as being part and parcel of ageing, explained oncologist Gouri Shankar Bhattacharyya. “This, when the cancer is curable if detected in the early stages. But awareness is so low that patients seldom come for check-ups,” he added. Dr Bhattacharyya was speaking at a prostate cancer awareness and screening camp held in CA Block recently.
The camp was organised by the CA Block-based NGO GM Cancer Research Trust, of which Bhattacharyya is a part. “While we gave fliers to every house in the block, I would consider it an achievement if even 40 men turn up,” he said. By the end of the camp, 42 people had showed up and one man was even found with an enlarged prostate, that would need attention.
The prostate is a gland in a man’s pelvis whose main functions are to keep the lower reproductive tract intact and to check the flow of urine. “All men are susceptible to prostate problems as they age,” said Bhattacharyya.
Symptoms of the illness include difficulty in urinating, reduced flow of urine, being unable to hold urine back when coughing or sneezing, pain in the lower abdomen or penis. If you have these it could be prostate problem, but not necessarily cancer.
Detection of the cancer requires a digital rectal examination and a blood test known as Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA test). The latter test, that costs around Rs 1,000, was conducted at the camp free of cost. “As men age they should go for PSA tests every two years, weather or not they feel any discomfort,” said the doctor.
Residents like Tulsidas Bandyopadhyay were certainly benefited from the camp. “I was told long back that I have an enlarged prostate so I came for the check-up. I also learnt about some warning signals of the illness and will share them with others,” said the 72-year-old from GC Block.