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King Charles raises awareness for common prostate condition

February 13, 2024
King Charles raises awareness for common prostate condition
February 13, 2024

Online searches for ‘enlarged prostate’ soared this year after Buckingham Palace announced that King Charles was being treated for benign prostate enlargement (BPE). This was prior to his recent cancer diagnosis and although no further details have been released about his current illness, treatment or prognosis, it is reportedly not linked to his prostate treatment.


As we await more news about his health and wish him well, health experts are praising the King for sharing details of his recent prostate procedure with the public.


‘Anything that helps take any stigma or embarrassment away from health concerns is always going to be a good thing,’ says ZoomDoc Chief Medical Officer and GP, Dr Kenny Livingstone


‘Benign prostate enlargement is common in men aged over 50. It’s not a cancer and it’s not usually a serious threat to health. However, many men do worry that having an enlarged prostate means they have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer. 


‘This is not the case and hopefully this raised awareness will take some of the worry out of this particular prostate diagnosis,’ he adds. 


Chiara de Biase, the Director of Support and Influencing at the charity Prostate Cancer UK, agrees and says they were ‘thankful to the king for sharing’ that he was to be treated in hospital for an enlarged prostate.


‘Raising awareness of prostate health is very important and already we are seeing that compared to the same 24-hour period last week, the number of people completing Prostate Cancer UK’s online risk checker is up by over 97%.’


To mark Prostate Cancer awareness month this March, we look into the signs, symptoms and treatment for benign prostate enlargement, which King Charles was treated for. 


Plus, how to get medical help faster if you’re concerned about your risk of prostate cancer or any prostate-related conditions.


What is benign prostate enlargement?


Benign prostate enlargement (BPE) is the medical term to describe an enlarged prostate, It is common in men aged over 50.


Benign prostate enlargement is a non-cancerous prostate condition. When the prostate becomes enlarged (thought to be caused by age or due to changing male hormones) it places pressure on the bladder and the urethra (the tube that urine passes through).


Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and usually include:


  • needing to pee frequently
  • difficulty or straining to pee
  • not feeling as though you’re fully emptying your bladder when you pee.


‘There can be lots of possible reasons for changes when you urinate, from infections to prostate problems, which can be easily detected with further tests,’ says Dr Kenny.


‘As with any conditions and cancers though, the sooner you get something diagnosed, the easier it can be to treat,’ he says.


Make sure you know which warning signs and symptoms you should not ignore.


Testing and diagnosis of benign prostate enlargement


There are several different tests to find out if you have an enlarged prostate, the most common is a urine test,


Your GP may want to rule out prostate cancer amongst other things and will most likely carry out some tests or refer you to have these tests in hospital.


These could include:


  • a urine test to rule out a urine infection
  • a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test
  • a digital rectal examination (DRE).


ZoomDoc offers an at-home PSA test that you can use to keep an eye on your levels yourself. 


‘This can be helpful if you’re struggling to get an appointment with your GP or if you simply want to re-check and monitor your level’, says Dr Kenny.


This finger prick blood test costs £49 and analyses your (PSA) prostate specific antigen level, which may be elevated in benign conditions such as benign prostate enlargement and particularly so in prostate cancer. The results are reliably analysed by our team of GPs.


‘We recommend that you use this at-home PSA test if you’re over the age of 50, have a strong family history of prostate conditions or prostate cancer and are experiencing any of the urinary symptoms mentioned above,’ says Dr Kenny.


Always talk to your doctor or specialist if your PSA levels are raised, or if you have any concerns about peeing (even if your levels are normal).


Order your PSA home test here.


Getting treatment for benign prostate enlargement


As well as lifestyle changes, medication is usually recommended to treat moderate to severe symptoms of BPE.


If you’re diagnosed with benign prostate enlargement treatment options will depend on the severity of your symptoms.


‘If it’s manageable you may just need regular check-ups and to make some lifestyle changes to help,’ says Dr Kenny.

Things to try include:


  • drinking less alcohol, caffeine and fizzy drinks
  • reducing or cutting out artificial sweeteners
  • exercising regularly
  • drinking less in the evening
  • eating more fibre.


The next step is to try medication that reduces the size of the prostate and relieves pressure on the bladder, helping peeing habits improve or return to normal.


If symptoms don’t respond to medication then you may require surgery, which as we now know is what King Charles needed earlier this year.


There are several different procedures that can help shrink or remove part of the prostate that’s causing your urinary problems. Your specialist will talk through the best procedure for your particular case.


Seeing the doctor sooner


If you’re concerned about any change in urinary symptoms, even if they’re manageable, it’s a good idea to see a GP as soon as possible. This includes finding blood in your pee, which could be a sign of something more serious.


If you’re struggling to get to your GP, or want to see a urologist (specialist) quicker, here’s how ZoomDoc can help:


  1. Online appointments – you can speak to one of our GPs at a time that suits you from as little as £35. Download our app and tell us about your symptoms.


  1. GP referral letter – we can provide a referral letter the same day for just £35 so you can book an appointment with a private specialist as soon as possible. There’s no need to see your usual GP at all, saving you time and stress. 

Order your letter here.


Concerned about prostate cancer? 


Read more about the signs, symptoms and treatment here.

Want to know more?

Our team of Doctors are available via the ZoomDoc App for any medical questions or queries.