READING has seen an 'alarming reduction' in men coming forward to present symptoms of prostate cancer.

According to urological surgeon Dr Philip Charleswort, Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) saw an 80 per cent reduction in suspected prostate cancer referrals during the first lockdown.

Since then, RBH has has seen 21 per cent fewer men come forward to report symptoms of prostate cancer than the same period in 2019.

As a result, the urology services at the hospital has excess capacity so men are being encouraged to book their prostate appointments.

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Dr Charlesworth said: "For the first time I can remember in my career, we're seeing significant capacity, to diagnose more prostate cancer cases. This is done with an upfront specialist MRI scan, and then only if an abnormality is detected, targeted prostate biopsies.

"In any other 12 month period, we might have taken this as a promising sign of a decline in cases but, sadly, we know this is much more likely to be a sign of men staying at home rather than consulting their GP, which could mean there is a significant amount of people needing treatment that aren’t receiving it.

"It would be unfair of me to simply blame men’s stereotypical behaviour. On many occasions over the last 12 months, we were all advised to “Stay Home, Protect the NHS”, which was undoubtedly the right thing to do at the time of the first lockdown because nobody could have been prepared for the pandemic."

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Despite being told to stay at home to protect the NHS, the message is very different now when it comes to cancer.

The urology consultant is urging patients with symptoms to see a GP.

He said: "I encourage all men over 50 to know their PSA (45 if you have risk factors), and I am particularly urging any man over 50 who has missed having his PSA checked in 2020, to get it checked as soon as possible.

"The patient benefits are clear, as the earlier the diagnosis the sooner any treatment can begin, and the higher the chances of survival."