Having the disease myself I cannot agree more but I would add:
Many GP's in the UK will resist requests for a PSA test (a blood test looking for the level of Prostate Specific Antigens). Their reasoning is because some people will have raised levels and turn out not to have the disease and others may have low levels but actually have it. Someone producing a high level will then go on to have a biopsy to either confirm cancer is present or all is clear. The biopsy carries a low but significant risk of infection. The PSA test is not 100% accurate and may lead to people having biopsies that produce negative results - this, and I believe the cost is the reason some GP's resist testing unless a number of symptoms exist.
There has been a lot of hype about a new MRI scan that can indicate the existance of cancer if a PSA test points to a possibilty of tumours but as far as I know, oncologists still don't rely on that and confirm by biopsy as well. Until a more reliable test is found, PSA tests remain all we have and I for one wish PSA screening was the norm for all men over 50.
I will be blunt here and explain exactly why I want to see such screening:
I was diagnosed a little over 3 years ago after a visit to my doctors for a general check up - I mentioned a couple of symptoms and my doctor raised her eyebrows and took some blood for testing. I had not even heard about Prostate cancer before that day. My PSA came back as a massive 189 against a norm of 3 for someone my age. The subsequent investigations revealed that the disease was 'aggressive and locally advanced'. The was a strong suspicion that 2 nearby lymph nodes were also affected, which for me is the biggest worry because all the body's lymph nodes are connected and act as a motorway to spread the disease to other parts. My Oncologist said I was just within the criteria to be given potentially curative treatment - just a little further on and I would only have been offered treatments to slow the disease down. The Prostate has 2 lobes - one of mine was 100% tumour, the other 60% and the tumour had boken through the capsule slightly.
I had 6 months of Hormone Therapy to try to shrink the tumours before having 35 days of Radio Therapy - surgery was considered to carry too much risk. The Hormone Therapy can also go on for up to 3 years following the main treatment. For personal reasons I opted to finish the Hormone Therapy after 2 years and my PSA level is now starting to rise again. At the moment I don't know if its just rising back to a normal level or if the disease is still present. There is no further curative treatment for me as I've had the maximum safe amount of radiation. I worry every time I have my PSA tested and the disease will hang over me for the rest of my life.
Do you want that or are you prepared to get tested? Badger your GP if they are resistant - PSA testing may not be 100% accurate but for the moment, its all we've got. Early detection has very good outcomes.
I think one reason that a lot of men don't get tested is the fear of impotence which can occur with treatment. Yes, there is a risk - I was 'out of action' for a while but I'm pleased to say I'm firing on all cylinders now. From what I can tell the best treatment is actually surgery to remove the Prostate gland if that is possible. Again, early detection is the best route as the less tumour there is, the more chance there is that 'nerve sparing surgery' can be carried out - if the nerves are left in place there is a higher chance of retaining your potence.
If I was 50 again and knew what I know now, I would insist on a test every year.
Its your choice - the alternative is a very slow and painful death if you do get Prostate Cancer. Within the Prostate, the disease does not kill you - that comes with its progression to your bones, lungs and brain!