GP tells Oldham's men - “don’t wait, let’s check out that prostate”
Date published: 17 June 2021
Pictured are (left to right): Susan Richardson, Dr Anita Sharma and Eric Richardson
“Don’t sit on it."
That’s the message from a South Chadderton GP to men who are peeing too much or feel they are never quite done when they visit the loo.
Speaking at a National Men’s Health Week event (June 14-20), Dr Anita Sharma has asked males to put aside embarrassment, bravado, fear of side-effects and even a reluctance to mither doctors and get themselves tested for prostate cancer.
And she is being backed in her call by a patient who but for two pieces of good fortune, simply wouldn’t be here.
Back in 2006, Eric Richardson plucked-up the courage to mention “problems with my waterworks” when visiting Dr Sharma - about knee pain.
“I told her that by the time I had finished having a wee and washing my hands, I needed to go again," said Eric.
"She encouraged me to get a test at the hospital for arthritis and while I was there, get my bloods done to see if I had cancer, too.
"That was followed by scans and a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
"She saved my life.”
Eric soon found himself at the celebrated Guy’s Hospital having his prostate removed.
Unfortunately, he was left with serious side effects, but received excellent ongoing care at Guys and was referred for an artificial sphincter to alleviate the problems of incontinence and remove the need for a leg bag.
These procedures and access to them are improving all the time and are now available in the Manchester area.
The events of 2006 made Eric and his wife Susan join a local campaign called Prostate Support Group Oldham to raise awareness of prostate cancer.
“I never believed I was going to die of it,” added Eric.
"But when I told my wife and two daughters about my diagnosis they were in floods of tears.
"I met men at the sessions who had lived with prostate cancer for 15 years.
"For the newly diagnosed bloke the group is fantastic.
"I mean we’re lay people and just hear the word “cancer.””
Dr Sharma believes that Prostate Self-Assessment (PSA) tests should be done as part of your usual NHS health check.
Available to all those aged 40-74-year-of-age, its aim is to pick-up early symptoms of type two diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease and signs of stroke and dementia.
Test for prostate cancer could be done every five years and community sessions, and treatment like Eric received in London ought to be available for all.
“Whilst I am so pleased that Eric has made a full recovery, it was wrong that he should have to go to London to get his treatment and the gaps between treatment here and in places like the South East, still exist," said Dr Sharma.
"The most important lesson for men here is that he told me of his condition - albeit as he was leaving the room!”
Estimates say that one in nine men will have prostate cancer in their lives, with males from BAME backgrounds and those with a family history more susceptible.
Dr Sharma admits that one of the biggest tragedies of her long career in medicine has been watching patients pass away because they didn’t spot the signs of cancer soon.
But she reminded us: “Prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers, as long as it is caught early.
"I would also remind patients that though we have been under enormous pressure due to COVID-19 we are open and here to help.”
Dr Sharma said that in line with national guidelines, all health professionals should start proactive discussions with prostate cancer patients about possible side-effects and refer them to information and support groups.
These include Prostate Cancer UK specialist nurses - see: https://prostatecanceruk.org/get-support/our-specialist-nurses - and online support to help improve sexual health after prostate cancer (funded by the Movember campaign).
She also wants to see health services work together to ensure the patient is cared for from diagnosis to discharge into the community – with emergency GP help made available.
Eric offered this message to men who might have symptoms: “Go and get tested, now.
"One simple blood test will either ease your mind or possible save your life.
"Get it done.”
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