Prostate cancer checks for men in 40s should be standard if they have family history of the disease

MEN who have a family history of prostate cancer should be given screening in their forties to catch the disease at an earlier stage, experts have suggested.

Researchers found that the risk of fatal prostate cancer was higher for men who had at least one immediate family member who had previously been diagnosed.

At present in the UK there is no screening for prostate cancer.

If men are worried about their risk they can talk to their GP and request a blood test through the NHS – but this only applies to men over the age of 50.

Experts at the University of Bergen in Norway studied more than 6.3 million men and found that the age cut off of 50 might be risky for those who have a family history of the illness.

They stated that the risk is the same for 41-year-olds as it is for 50-year-olds if at least two close relatives had been diagnosed with the illness, with at least one of the two having been diagnosed at a younger age.

The paper, published in PLOS Medicine also stated that the risk is the same for 43-year-olds who had a father, brother or son diagnosed with the illness before the age of 60.

Lead author of the study Professor Mahdi Fallah said the findings could help inform future screening guidance and that looking into family history could “significantly affect chances of getting prostate cancer”.

Prof Fallah suggests that men should be able to take a blood test for the PSA protein in their early forties.

This protein is linked to prostate cancer.

This, the team says, could help doctors assess their risk of the illness.

The experts looked at all men born in Sweden after 1931 and their close relatives.

They then tracked their risk of stage three or four prostate cancer.

It found that one in eight of 89,000 men who developed a deadly stage of the cancer had one close relative who had been diagnosed.

It followed 6.3 million men and found that those aged 50 had a one in 500 chance of developing serious prostate cancer in the next ten years of their life.

The NHS states that “there's currently no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK. This is because it has not been proved that the benefits would outweigh the risks.”

What is prostate cancer and what are the signs you need to know?

One in eight Brit blokes will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Many will live long lives and not experience too many nasty symptoms.

But in others, their cancer will spread, which is when the disease can turn deadly.

Prostate cancer currently kills 10,900 men-a-year, but Prostate Cancer UK warn that this number could surge to 15,000-a-year by 2026.

What are the symptoms?

In most cases, prostate cancer doesn't have any symptoms until the growth is big enough to put pressure on the urethra – that tube you pee through.

  • Needing to urinate more often, especially at night
  • Needing to rush to the toilet
  • Difficulty in starting to pee
  • Weak flow
  • Straining and taking a long time while peeing
  • Feeling that your bladder hasn't emptied fully

It states that around 15 per cent of men with prostate cancer have normal PSA levels and that many cases are missed because of this.

The NHS states: “Some men may face difficult decisions about treatment, although this is less likely now that most men are offered an MRI scan before further tests and treatment.

“Treating prostate cancer in its early stages can be beneficial in some cases, but the side effects of the various treatments are potentially so serious that men may choose to delay treatment until it's absolutely necessary.

“Although screening has been shown to reduce a man's chance of dying from prostate cancer, it would mean many men receive treatment unnecessarily.”

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