THE number of men dying from prostate cancer has overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK.

There were 11,819 deaths from prostate cancer compared with 11,442 from breast cancer.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout March.

I want to see a big rise in the number of men over 45 visiting their GP for an examination that could save their life.

The most common test usually involves a “digital examination”.

That means the doctor feeling inside the man’s back passage.

It is common practice for the doctor, usually takes less than a minute, is relatively painless and could save your life. The causes of prostate cancer, which is responsible for more than 10,000 UK deaths each year, are largely unknown but what is certain is that chances of developing it increase in men over 50.

Although it is more common in men of African-Caribbean or African descent, it is actually less common in men of Asian descent.

Men whose father or brother has been affected by prostate cancer are also at higher risk of being affected themselves. A blood test known as a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can be the first step to checking for cancer but this can only supply an indicator.

The problem with the PSA test is levels can be raised by non-cancerous growths or urinary infections of the prostate. But it is better to be safe than sorry and, if necessary, a follow-up test will allow doctors to be much more exact in their diagnosis.

Andy Symes is consultant urologist at The Montefiore Hospital in Hove