Most Irish men with prostate cancer displayed no symptoms of the disease when they were diagnosed, new research has found.
According to a report on the findings from the Irish Prostate Cancer Outcomes Research (IPCOR) group, four out of five Irish men showed no symptoms when they were diagnosed.
Furthermore, one in five of those diagnosed was under the age of 60, which goes against the general perception that prostate cancer only affects older men.
"The report's findings show how important it is for men to have a conversation with their doctor about their prostate health. Generally, prostate cancer only causes symptoms when it becomes advanced.
"The best chance we have to treat and cure the disease is to catch the cancer early, before symptoms develop. Therefore, we would encourage men from the age of 45 to speak to their doctor about their prostate health," commented IPCOR principal investigator and consultant urologist, Dr David Galvin.
The IPCOR research included data on 4,800 patients who were diagnosed with the disease in 2016 and 2017. Aside from the lack of symptoms, it also found major differences in diagnosis waiting times between public and private patients.
Those in the public system had to wait an average of 56 days for a biopsy, compared to 32 days for private patients. Furthermore, public patients had to wait 85 days for their results, compared to 55 days for private patients.
The researchers said that delays in MRI access were a possible contributing factor in this. MRI imaging is considered important in the performance of accurate biopsies, as undergoing a scan before a biopsy can improve diagnosis and may reduce the need for further biopsies.
However, the report noted that those in private hospitals were three times more likely to access an MRI scan before their biopsy than those in public hospitals.
The research was funded by the men's health charity, the Movember Foundation, which is the largest non-governmental funder of prostate cancer initiatives in Ireland.
"The work of IPCOR demonstrates how the funds raised are making a real difference to the lives of men affected by prostate cancer - informing diagnosis, improving outcomes and enabling a better quality of life. Through continued support we can keep funding innovative research that helps Irish men to live happier, healthier, longer lives," commented Movember country director, Neil Rooney.
IPCOR is a nationwide prostate cancer registry, which captures high-quality information from newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients in Ireland. It is a collaborative partnership involving the Irish Cancer Society, the National Cancer Registry Ireland, the HRB Clinical Research Facility in Galway, the National Cancer Control Program and the nation's major academic institutions represented by Clinical Research Development Ireland.
For more information on IPCOR, click here