Covid is causing an alarming delay in the diagnosis of prostate cancer

The prostate is one of the male organs most likely to contract diseases, which is why regular check-ups are essential to avoid complications. He September 15 is the European Day of Prostate Health, whose purpose is to educate men about prostate diseases, their knowledge and prevention.

According to the estimate collected in the latest report of the Spanish Society of Medical Oncology, the most frequent cancer diagnosed in men in Spain in 2020 will be prostate, with more than 35,000 new cases this year. The number of prostate cancer tumors will be even higher than that of the breast, which is expected to be around 33,000 diagnoses.

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The doctor Fernando Garcia Montes, responsible for the Urology and Andrology Unit from the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Polyclinic in Ibiza, insists on the importance of men going to the urologist every year from the age of 45, even if there is no apparent alteration, to carry out a control and detect possible problems at an early stage. “Men should be clear that go to the urologist once a year It should be part of our routine, just as it is for women to go to the gynecologist. However, the usual thing is to go only when you become aware that a family member or friend suffers from a prostate disease, at the insistence of the couple, because the company forces you or when you have already had problems that prevent you from leading a normal life ", Explain.

The European Association of Urology conducted a survey in 2019 where it was revealed, unlike what happens with women, the low awareness in European men regarding their prostate health. “Only 26% of men were able to identify prostate function and up to 62% had misconceptions about their prostate health. In our experience, these percentages faithfully reflect the situation in Ibiza and Formentera ”, indicates García Montes. Thus, according to internal data from the Polyclinic of Rosario, only 860 men had a first urological consultation, compared to 2,693 women who attended the gynecologist for the first time in 2019. The difference is even greater if the data of the reviews is crossed, with 2,392 men compared to 21,509 made by women over the past year.

Fernando Garcia.

Even though that him 22% of cancers diagnosed in men in Spain they are prostate, the disease has a cure rate of around 90% when it is detected early, according to the Spanish Association against Cancer (AECC). "It is important to know that it is a type of cancer with a slow evolution and that when the first symptoms appear, normally, it is already in a more advanced phase and more difficult to treat", clarifies Fernando García Montes, hence the importance of performing annual routine check-ups.

Urological examinations, what do they consist of?

Despite the high incidence of problems related to the prostate, "the vast majority of men do not go to the urologist due to ignorance, fear or shame," says García Montes. The routine checkups could prevent and cure the vast majority of prostate diseases, including cancer, if they are diagnosed early.

In addition, urological examinations are a much more bearable process than most believe. They do not hurt and do not require any previous bowel preparation. The medical visit includes a questionnaire on urinary and sexual habits and a physical examination of the genito-urinary system, including a digital rectal examination, an ultrasound of the urinary system, and blood and urine tests. And apart from the reviews, the specialist emphasizes that "every man should make an additional consultation with the urologist whenever he presents any alteration in his normal urination pattern."

How has the covid affected Urology?

On the incidence of the coronavirus in the field of urology, the specialist points out the following: “The impact of the pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus is being terrible both directly and indirectly. Regardless of the direct effects that covid-19 is having on the health of the population, the health situation is causing the delay in diagnosis and treatment of other diseases not related to the virus. In the field of urology it happens exactly the same as in the rest of the specialties. There are patients who are not only not attending their routine check-ups but are also reluctant to seek medical attention when they have symptoms or pre-existing symptoms worsen. Undoubtedly, this situation has a very negative impact on the evolution of the disease ”.

Protocol for cancer patients and prevention

Due to the high level of contagiousness of covid-19 very strict protocols have been established with circuits designed to safeguard safety of patients in the hospital center. García Montes recalls that “cancer patients are a population at risk for the coronavirus, so they are insisted on complying with hygiene measures and social distancing in the out-of-hospital environment and the operation of the security circuits is explained in detail implanted ”.

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Additionally, at the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Polyclinic there are telephone assistance consultations for specific cases but, in any case, the doctor insists that those patients, oncological or not, who present symptoms that require emergency care should not delay it: "The circuits for emergency department care are designed to preserve the safety of patients and the negative impact of delaying your medical care it can be much higher than the risk of contagion. "

Tips for prostate health in pandemic

“You have to internalize that the most important thing is compliance with hygiene and social distancing measures on a day-to-day basis to avoid contagion by the covid ”, recalls García Montes,“ but also that we are going to live with the pandemic for an indeterminate time and in the meantime the reviews of other diseases should not be put aside ”.

Thus, the specialist insists that: "Both patients with stabilized urological diseases, as those who initiate symptoms or, on the contrary, patients who have a sensation of gravity, they should not delay their reviews and go to their face-to-face appointments or to the emergency service to be checked using the established security circuits ”.