Men urged to go for can­cer screen­ing

Movem­ber, an an­nual event in­volv­ing the grow­ing of mous­taches dur­ing the month of Novem­ber to raise aware­ness on men’s health is­sues, is aimed at chang­ing the face of men’s health. It aims to in­crease early can­cer de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis and ef­fec­tive treatm

Post - - News - JA­NINE MOOD­LEY

WITH one in 18 men di­ag­nosed with prostate can­cer in the coun­try, it re­mains the lead­ing cause of can­cer-re­lated deaths among men.

Ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Can­cer Reg­istry, it is also the num­ber one can­cer in Asian men, fol­lowed by col­orec­tal can­cer and can­cer of the lung.

They also form part of the Big 5 can­cers af­fect­ing men with Ka­posi Sar­coma and blad­der can­cer adding to the list.

Stud­ies show that when de­tected early, can­cer sur­vival rates are bet­ter than 98%. If found late, it drops be­low 26%.

The month of Novem­ber has since been ded­i­cated to raise aware­ness of not only prostate can­cer but the im­por­tance of men’s health as a whole.

Widely pop­u­lar aware­ness cam­paign for the cause is Movem­ber, a global men’s health char­ity fund­ing over 1 200 projects in 21 coun­tries world­wide.

The cam­paign fo­cuses on prostate can­cer, tes­tic­u­lar can­cer, men­tal health and sui­cide pre­ven­tion.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive and founder of the Men’s Foun­da­tion, Gar­ron Gsell, who is head­ing the Movem­ber cam­paign, said: “There is a lack of aware­ness and gen­eral knowl­edge about prostate can­cer.

“Know the facts and take ac­tion early. When it comes to their health, too many men don’t talk and don’t take ac­tion. The tragedy is that many men have died early and un­nec­es­sar­ily be­cause they didn’t reach out for help when they needed it.”

Speak­ing about the im­por­tance of early screen­ings, Lor­raine Goven­der, the na­tional ad­vo­cacy co-or­di­na­tor for the Can­cer As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (CANSA), said prostate can­cer of­ten de­vel­oped with­out symp­toms in the early stages but nor­mally later on.

“A bal­anced life­style and screen­ing are es­sen­tial in low­er­ing the risk and re­cur­rence of the dis­ease. When the dis­ease is ad­vanced, symp­toms are likely to oc­cur that in­clude strain­ing to pass urine, leak­ing urine, bloody urine and bone pain. If prostate can­cer is di­ag­nosed and treated early, the prog­no­sis is of­ten good.”

Sta­tis­tics, how­ever, show that a ma­jor­ity of men are fear­ful of get­ting tested and of­ten avoid vis­it­ing the doc­tor.

Chatsworth psy­chol­o­gist Guru Kist­nasamy said: “The di­ag­no­sis of prostate can­cer im­me­di­ately brings fear and anx­i­ety to most in­di­vid­u­als. It seems like their lives are on hold as the fu­ture is un­cer­tain.

“The psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects can be as ad­verse as the phys­i­cal ef­fects. In­ti­mate re­la­tion­ships may be af­fected be­cause of the fear and anx­i­ety. A long last­ing re­la­tion­ship can be­come strained.

“The pa­tient can be­come ir­ri­ta­ble, with­drawn and grumpy. He may be con­sumed with guilt feel­ings be­cause of the neg­a­tive ef­fect on his re­la­tion­ship with his sex­ual part­ner. De­pres­sion can also set in if the pa­tient is not coun­selled.”

A Dur­ban prostate can­cer sur­vivor said ev­ery­thing hap­pened so quickly for him, that he did not have time to go through the mo­tions.

The Queens­burgh at­tor­ney said: “I was di­ag­nosed al­most 10 years ago. I went in for a rou­tine check-up and the doc­tor picked up el­e­vated Prostate Spe­cific Anti­gen (PSA) lev­els. I just asked doc­tor what needed to be done and did it.

“I went for a biopsy then a treat­ment, which in­cluded brachyther­apy (an ad­vanced can­cer treat­ment). I later went for my reg­u­lar check-ups and have main­tained a healthy life­style ever since.”

He said the side ef­fects of surgery were min­i­mum but it was im­por­tant to have a pos­i­tive out­look.

“Sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions like CANSA play a role in cre­at­ing aware­ness and pro­vid­ing sup­port to pa­tients that are di­ag­nosed.

“My mes­sage for men, who have been re­cently di­ag­nosed is: Live a nor­mal healthy life and stop wor­ry­ing about the small things.

“Fo­cus on the pos­i­tives in your life and you’ll be just fine.”

Dur­ing a re­cent clinic open­ing in KZN, Health MEC Si­bongiseni Dhlomo con­firmed that men were gen­er­ally not keen to visit health fa­cil­i­ties.

“As a re­sult, most peo­ple who die at hospi­tals are men. This needs to change. That is why we are urg­ing men – and the pub­lic in gen­eral – to get them­selves checked. It is free of charge and will help you live longer.”

CANSA rec­om­mends reg­u­lar screen­ing from 40 years and up, es­pe­cially if there is any fam­ily his­tory of can­cer. Cur­rently un­der way are three CANSA re­search projects that look for clin­i­cal mark­ers of prostate can­cer that can serve as an in­di­ca­tor of a spe­cific bi­o­log­i­cal state or con­di­tion.

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