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Tuesday 21:00-21:30
Repeat Wednesday 16:30
Dr Mark Porter gives listeners the low-down on what the medical profession does and doesn't know. Each week an expert in the studio tackles a particular topic and there are reports from around the UK on the health of the nation - and the NHS.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 20 May
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DR MARK PORTER
Dr Mark Porter
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Tuesday 20 May 2008
Prostate

Full programme transcript >>

Prostate Cancer

Around 35,000 men develop cancer of the prostate every year in the UK – meaning it affects nearly as many men, as breast cancer does women. Yet there is vast difference in public awareness. Most men don’t even know where their prostate gland is.

In young men, the gland is usually the shape and size of a walnut - and it increases slowly in size with age. It lies just underneath the bladder neck and surrounds the urethra that men pass urine and semen through.

While prostate cancer can cause symptoms due to generalised swelling of the gland – such as needing to get up frequently in the night for a pee, or noticing that your stream isn’t as powerful as it used to be – it has to be fairly advanced to get that stage. Most men with these symptoms will have benign age related swelling of the gland, and a blood test is often only the clue in those with cancer.

The PSA test - which measures a protein produced by the prostate gland - can show that there is a problem with the prostate. It should be used together with other tests for diagnosing prostate cancer. Some doctors - like Professor Roger Kirby of The Prostate Centre in London - believe that men over 50 should have a PSA test every year, especially if they have a family history of prostate cancer. African Caribbean men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than white men and researchers are looking at what may ause this increased risk. Diet and genes appear to play an important part.

Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer will be offered one of three options – no actual treatment but active surveillance, radiotherapy or surgery – and there is still hot debate as to what works best for which men.

Mark hears from Phil Kissi, who chose to have keyhole surgery when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. He was concerned about possible sexual problems as the operation carries a risk of causing impotence because of damage done to the delicate nerves during surgery. Since his operation he's used drugs to help achieve a normal erection and his sex life is getting back to normal - thanks to the patience of his partner!

The Da Vinci prostatectomy uses the latest robotically assisted keyhole technique and Mark sees the device in action with surgeon Professor David Neal at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.

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