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
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.