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Professor Roger Kirby, Prostate UK



Imagine waking up this morning with a dull ache in your pelvic area.

Initially you think you’ve pulled a muscle or have a touch of constipation.

But gradually the ache turns into stabbing pains in your lower back, genital area, thighs… in fact, the entire area from your belly button to your knees.

Over time, it hurts to urinate, have sex, even sit down. You see doctor after doctor but no-one can find either a cause or a cure.

And the longer it goes on, the worse it gets.

The stuff of nightmares? For 30,000 men a year, the pain of prostatitis is only too real.

It’s all down to a little known, complex, disease of the prostate – the walnut sized gland situated in the pelvis – causing it to become inflamed. It affects as many men as prostate cancer – and a staggering 50 per cent of all men, young and old, will experience at least one episode in their lifetime. Yet most have never even heard of it.

As well as causing pain and discomfort the condition can damage sperm – contributing to infertility – and may even increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Such little attention has been given to this debilitating condition, compared to its two ‘big sisters’ - prostate cancer and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH or ‘enlarged prostate’), that experts are hailing it the ‘Cinderella’ disease.

With the number of men affected soaring, British prostatitis experts have decided enough is enough. Prostate UK, the only charity to focus on all three prostate diseases, is calling on the Government to give prostatitis the attention and funding it deserves.

Prostate UK recently organised the first ever UK symposium into the condition - flying in experts from all corners of the globe to discuss a way forward in treating prostatitis.

According to Professor J Curtis Nickel, the world’s leading prostatitis expert - based at Queens University, Canada - the UK is a staggering 10 years behind North America both in diagnosing and treating the condition.

Experts agreed that more research into the condition and better training among health professionals – particularly GPs who are usually the first port of call for sufferers – is essential.

Professor Roger Kirby, chairman of Prostate UK, and director of the Prostate Centre in London, explains: “Of all the prostate diseases, this is the one about which we know the least. The causes are obscure and the treatment difficult.

“But the effects on the patient can be very debilitating, with a significant impact on his ability to work, quality of life, emotional well-being and sexual relationships.

“The pain and despair can trigger anxiety and depression among sufferers. Tragically, some have even been known to take their own lives.

“Just ten per cent of prostatitis cases – where the condition is triggered by a bacterial infection – are treatable. Caught early, and with the right diagnosis and antibiotics, the patient can make a full recovery (although there is a danger of relapsing).

“But for the remaining 90 per cent who have what’s known as chronic prostatitis, or chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS), the outlook is bleak.”

Poor awareness among the medical profession means many sufferers fail to even get a diagnosis – let alone professional help, Professor Kirby explains.

Even then, sadly, there is no magic cure. Treatment for CPPS is based around learning to manage the condition – with anti-inflammatories, painkillers and muscle relaxants. “Eventually nearly all patients recover but the suffering can be lengthy – years in many cases - and agonising,” says Professor Kirby.

A shortage of urology experts - combined with the stiff British upper lip and reluctance to seek help - as well as simple ignorance, means thousands of men and their partners are suffering in silence.

“Many GPs receive only a few hours training in prostate problems as medical students – which leaves them wholly inexperienced in the area,” said Professor Kirby. “But the nature of this complex disease – being difficult to understand, diagnose and treat – means that even top urologists run a mile from dealing with it.”

“All experts gathered at the conference agreed that this cannot go on. It’s time for action.”

They are now calling on the Government to establish a set of national guidelines in dealing with the condition. They also insist on more research, better treatment, funding to increase the number of prostate specialists in this country, and awareness campaigns both among the medical profession and the public.

“Something needs to be done now to ease the misery of these sufferers,” says Professor Kirby. “These men need help – yet too many are simply being passed from pillar to post.

“We need to stop this condition from destroying lives.”

For further information contact The charity runs free training seminars on prostate diseases, nationwide, for health professionals. In the two years since they have been launched more than 1,000 delegates have attended. For more details log on to the website and click ‘training’.

**** Prostate UK is organising Pants in the Park fun runs at various locations on Fathers’ Day to raise awareness of prostate disease. Participants are encouraged to wear their pants ‘Superman style’ over their running clothes – with prizes for best pants! To register visit or call 0208 877 5848****

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To request an interview with Professor Roger Kirby, contact:
Chief Executive of Prostate UK, Brigadier John Anderson, on 020 8877 5848 or
Fiona Duffy on 0121 681 0781.

Notes for editors:

Prostate UK is the only national charity dealing with all forms of prostate disease, benign and malignant (cancer). One in two men will suffer from a prostate disease at some stage in their lives. We seek to limit the damage this causes by raising awareness, providing information, funding research and training medical professionals. We do this without any government funding.

Did you know that:

φ Prostate Cancer is the most common form of cancer to affect men in the UK. Over 35,000 men are diagnosed with the disease each year. 10,000 men die of prostate cancer each year – the equivalent of one man every hour.

φ BPH (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) - the enlargement of the prostate - affects almost half of all men over the age of 50 and can ruin lives.

φ Prostatitis – inflammation of the prostate – affects at least one in nine men. Unlike the other two conditions it occurs in younger, as well as older men.

Our mission is to stop prostate diseases ruining lives. We aim to achieve this by:

φ Funding research into greater understanding and development of new techniques and treatments for all prostate diseases. Since 2000 we have sponsored some 120 projects costing over £3.4 million.

φ Informing and educating men, their partners and their families about prostate diseases. New brochures have been produced on each of the diseases and our quarterly newsletter, Update, is read by over 10,000 people. All publications are free.

φ Informing and training medical professionals, both specialist and non-specialist, in the latest advances in the treatment of prostate diseases. We run free training seminars UK-wide and over 650 GPs and nurses attended these in 2007: this year six seminars are planned, offering over 1000 free vacancies. We are also funding the training of two urological surgeons.

φ Creating greater awareness about all prostate diseases with an active media campaign.

φ Offering advice, help and above all, hope to those affected by prostate problems.


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