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What we have to say about your health and well being
Mar 2015
Ovarian Cancer & Prostate Cancer by Shiraz Shaffi ( Pharmacy Manager, Hootons Pharmacy)

Ovarian Cancer

7100 women are diagnosed in the UK every year with Ovarian Cancer. It is most common in women aged 50 and over or those that have gone through menopause, although it can affect women at any age, particularly if there is a family history present. It is caused by uncontrollable cell mutations and divisions leading to production of a mass or tumour on the ovaries that can spread to the abdomen, pelvis and other organs. Symptoms can be difficult to diagnose but include persistent bloating, pain in the abdominal area and pelvis, frequent urination, loss of appetite or becoming full too quickly. Seeking GP advice will encourage investigation such as:

  • Blood Test -A test for the protein CA125 which in raised levels can indicate a problem although many other normal conditions such as pregnancy can also cause an increase in this protein
  • Ultrasound scan- this will check for any swellings or cysts on the ovaries

If the above two investigations both cause reason to be suspicious of cancer then further tests such as X-Rays, MRI scan and CT scan, biopsy of ovarian tissue may be used to further help to diagnose and stage the cancer in order to ascertain the best form of treatment for you. Treatment generally includes a combination of chemotherapy and surgery. The earlier the cancer is detected and treated the better the chance of successful treatment and increased survival rates.

Prostate Cancer

Most common cancer in men aged 50 or over and affecting up to 40,000 new cases each year. Certain ethnic groups such as African-Caribbean men are more at risk and in cases where there is a family history of the condition. The condition manifests itself slowly therefore symptoms may not appear for a long time until the cancer presses on the urethra. As men age the prostate can frequently enlarge in size but this is benign in most cases and not indicative of cancer.

Early symptoms include; frequently needing to urinate, blood in the urine, straining to difficulty urinating and feeling like the bladder hasn’t fully emptied. Late symptoms suggestive that the cancer has spread include; back pain, bone pain, testicular pain, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss. It is important to seek GP advice if any of the above symptoms arise. Seeking GP advice will encourage investigation including:

  • Blood test- A test for PSA (Prostate specific antigen) although raised levels do not necessarily mean you have cancer
  • Urine sample to check for infection
  • Digital rectal examination
  • Biopsy

Treatment includes careful monitoring, surgical removal of the prostate, radiotherapy and hormone therapy. Side effects such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence may occur in some cases.

In conclusion AICR’s recommends eating mostly plant foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans); limiting red meat and avoiding processed meat. This healthy diet of plant-based foods provides cancer-fighting phytochemicals and vitamins along with health-protecting fiber and minerals. Being physically active for 30 minutes or more each day and aim to maintain a healthy weight will help prevent cancer development.

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