Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

The very word “cancer” strikes fear into the hearts of many of those who hear or read that very word. Statistically the chances of being diagnosed with cancer during our lifetime is a staggering 1 in 2. In other words 50% of the population are likely to have some form of cancer at any time.

I have already written about my past experience with Pancreatic Cancer which has a 94% mortality rate.  I was initially diagnosed in the USA, although I subsequently had my tumour removed in the UK, followed by exemplary post-operative care and ongoing monitoring, and here I am 4 years later in excellent health and able to share my experience. I believe the more we talk openly about any cancers can only serve to raise awareness and remove the stigma that is attached to the word itself.

The ISU is committed to promulgating information about health-related matters on a regular basis on our website. You might ask why? The answer is that we take the wellness of our members most seriously. This is first of a series of articles on health and wellbeing in which we will provide some information in addition to signposting members to sites where they can obtain more details and the contact details of organisations which can provide assistance as appropriate.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Did you know that Ovarian Cancer is the 6th most common cancer in women? 7,300 women in the UK are diagnosed every year. That equates to 20 per day! 1 in 52 women will be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer in their lifetime. 60% of women are diagnosed at a late stage. The good news is that 90% of cases are curable if detected early.

What are the most common signs & symptoms?

Bloating, a feeling of being full, pain, irregular bleeding and the urge to pee more frequently. If you have any/all of these it does not necessarily mean you have cancer. However, if your symptoms are:

Persistent: ie. they won’t go away

Frequent: ie. they occur most days

New: ie. they started in the past 12 months

Unusual: ie. not normal for you

You should make an appointment to see a medical professional as soon as possible.

Be aware, there is no National Screening Programme for Ovarian Cancer.

Ladies, you already know your body quite well. If things don’t seem to be quite how they should be, listen to your body………you know it makes sense!

Cindy & I were devastated when one of our dearest friends was diagnosed with advanced Ovarian Cancer in conjunction with advanced Stomach and Lung Cancers last August. The prognosis was dire and she died less than 2 months later. She had displayed some symptoms as described above but had, for reasons best known to herself, chosen to disregard them.

There is a free Text Reminder facility available to all women from The Robin Cancer Trust which will send monthly reminders of the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Just text OVARY to 70300*. Early detection saves lives!

You can find more information on Ovarian Cancer at The Robin Cancer Trust and Ovacome

*visit their website for more details

Gentlemen, did you know that 1 in 8 of you will develop prostate cancer?

There are 3 main factors:

  1. Getting older…………men aged 50+ are more likely to be affected. If you are under 50 the chances of being diagnosed with this condition are very low………..BUT it is possible. Men between the ages of 60 – 69 have the highest rate of diagnosis.
  1. Having a family history of Prostate Cancer…………..common factors such as genetic, environment and lifestyle all play their part. If you have a close relative, ie. a father or brother who has had either Prostate Cancer or Breast Cancer ( yes, men can get Breast Cancer )you are two and a half times more likely to get it. If you have a mother or sister who has had Breast Cancer, your risk of getting hereditary Prostate Cancer is higher.
  1. Being Black………..quite simply, black men are more likely than other men to get Prostate Cancer and in the UK that equates to 1 in 4 of you.

According to Prostate Cancer UK, if you have mixed black ethnicity, taken from men recorded as black African, black Caribbean or black Other, you are likely to be at a higher risk of Prostate Cancer than a white man. The exact risk is not known due to the fact that there is insufficient information on Prostate Cancer in men with mixed black ethnicity. It is not known whether or not having a black father or a black mother makes any difference.

Nobody knows how to prevent Prostate Cancer although a healthy lifestyle may be important. Being overweight may increase your risk of being diagnosed with aggressive, ie. more likely to spread or advanced, ie. cancer which has spread outside the prostate.

If detected at a very early stage, the survival rate in the UK is currently 100% after 1 year. The 10 year survival rate is 98% and the 15 year survival rate is 95%. Taking into account the age range of the highest detection group, this is good news.

What are the symptoms?

In the early stages there are very few. However, if you notice any of the following:

  • Difficulty in starting to pee
  • A weak flow when peeing
  • A feeling that your bladder has not quite emptied
  • Dribbling after finishing
  • Needing to go more often, especially during the night
  • A sudden need to pee, sometimes resulting in leakage before reaching a toilet

You would be well advised to have this checked out by a medical professional.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, if you have any of the above symptoms in addition to:

Back pain Hip pain or Pelvis pain

Erectile difficulties

Blood in either your urine or semen………….even if only on one occasion

Unexplained weight loss

You MUST see a medical professional.


There are 4 tests which can be carried out to determine whether or not you may have Prostate Cancer. These are:

The PSA test which involves taking a blood sample which measures the level of prostate specific antigen in your blood. This is available to all men over the age of 50.

Digital Rectal Examination……..the old ”finger up the bum” which is entirely painless, although slightly embarrassing, which can help your GP in determining the size of your prostate and what course of action to follow.

An MRI Scan which can detect small growing cancers which may or may not require further investigation or treatment.

A biopsy which will entail removing 10 – 12 small pieces of tissue from a specific area within the prostate itself, usually under local anaesthetic, for subsequent examination at a laboratory.

I have gone through investigation for suspected Prostate Cancer involving 3 of the 4 tests outlined above. I was fortunate insofar as my consultant was able to rule out the need for a biopsy whilst performing an additional test which involved having a camera inserted through my urethra to carry out a visual examination of my urinary tract. He announced that I had Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, which in layman’s terms is simply a non-cancerous, moderately enlarged prostate which is entirely age-related. The only recommendation he made was that I have an annual PSA test.

If you display any of the above symptoms you too may fall into this category. However, DO NOT ignore them!

You can find more information via the following charities:

Prostate Cancer UK

Macmillan Cancer Support

Cancer Research UK


Stuart Band

ISU National Chairman