A specialist cancer nurse at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital and one of her patients are campaigning for men to have a better understanding of the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer.
For prostate cancer awareness month this March, Sian Fletcher, Macmillan Urology nurse specialist, and Graham Davis, from Swindon, want to highlight the possible symptoms of the disease in an effort to get more men coming forward for treatment.
Prostate cancer has become the most commonly diagnosed cancer, overtaking breast cancer for the first time. New figures released by NHS England showed there were 49,029 newly diagnosed cases of prostate cancer in England in 2018, 7,205 more than in 2017*.
Graham Davis, 65, from Swindon, a Passenger Assistant at the Borough Council, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2019 and is urging other men not to put off being tested or be embarrassed about what it involves.
Graham said: “I was out with a mate for a few drinks. I had just gone to the loo as we weren’t sure how long it would take us to get to the next pub or restaurant. We had only been walking a few minutes when I had a sudden urge to find the nearest loo again."
Graham put it down to his age and laughed it off with his mate, and his waterworks settled down for the rest of the day.
But when he told his family about it, Graham's daughters insisted he got checked by a doctor.
"I reluctantly made an appointment with my GP, even though I thought I'd be wasting their time," said Graham.
"I had an examination and a blood test and got the diagnosis of prostate cancer a week later.
"The shock was numbing, as I consider myself to be very fit and active."
With cases of prostate cancer increasing, Graham is now encouraging other men to be aware of the risk and to get themselves checked.
He said: "You aren’t left with much dignity at the end of the examination process, but the doctors and nurses are fantastic throughout this. They put you at ease straight from the start and are there afterwards for the support.
Graham added: "I had no real symptoms, except for occasionally I would get up in the dead of night to use the bathroom but I put that down to my age.”
Graham also praised his cancer nursing team at Great Western Hospital. He said: “Sian and the team have been so supportive. I just know they’re there if I need them, which is so reassuring, especially when you’re first diagnosed.”
Sian Fletcher, Macmillan Urology Nurse Specialist at Swindon’s Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s possible that the increase in the number of cases diagnosed is partly due high-profile celebrity cases talking openly about their experiences of living with and after prostate cancer treatment.
“Your chances of surviving prostate cancer and returning to normal life are greatly improved when you’re diagnosed early, so we strongly advise seeking prompt medical advice from your GP and not ignoring signs and symptoms.”
Sian, who works with a team of specialist urology cancer nurses at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon, added: “We support men and their families from the time of their prostate cancer diagnosis, through to their first appointment with the oncologist and/or specialist surgeon, during and after treatment.
“As a specialist nurse I can be the person breaking bad news, delivering the diagnosis and discussing a treatment plan.
“We hope that through personal, one-to-one conversation we can understand people’s information and support needs so that they get the physical, emotional and financial support they need.
“We regularly signpost to our prostate cancer support group to offer their peer support.”
Signs and Symptoms
Men are advised to see their doctor if they have any of these symptoms:
• difficulty peeing – for example, a weak flow or having to strain to start peeing
• needing to pee more often than usual, especially at night
• feeling like you have not completely emptied your bladder after peeing
• an urgent need to pee
• blood in the pee or semen
• rarely, pain when peeing or ejaculating.
Anyone with worries or concerns should speak to their GP. For questions about cancer, the Macmillan Support Line is open 7 days a week, 8am – 8pm, on 0808 808 0000 or go to macmillan.org.uk