THIS week (September 18-23, 2017) is Prostate Cancer Awareness Week and as result we need to share the truth about prostate cancer so as to demystify prostate cancer.
In Zimbabwe, 81 percent of cancer cases are diagnosed very late and this does not only reduce chances of cure, but also increases the cost of managing the cancer.
Men’s health challenges are embedded in the socio-cultural atmosphere. Men are taught to be self-reliant, conceal weakness, that health is not a big issue, a real man does not feel pain and a man’s needs come second to his family’s needs. They often ignore pain until they collapse and are taken to the emergency room.
This is more common in reproductive-related health problems such as reproductive cancers. Some health interventions have also taken a moralising and judgmental stance that stigmatises men without any attempt to learn more about what prevents them from utilising existing health services. Men are generally described as irresponsible, adversaries and obstacles to women’s access to health services.
Reproductive-related complications of males also affect their female partners and as a result it is very important for both parties to have basic knowledge on male reproductive cancers.
Zimbabwean men are gradually realising the importance of early screening.
The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe did a prostate cancer screening campaign in June 2017 and about 500 men were screened in that month alone.
This overwhelming response is a window of hope that should be explored in promoting early detection of prostate cancer.
The most common male cancers in Zimbabwe are reproductive system-related cancers. In some cases, advancement of these cancers and other treatment modalities may lead to sterility.
This makes it even more difficult for men to face these reproductive- related male cancers given the society’s gendered expectations.
Men, however, like women can also take control of their health. Men need to be empowered to change attitude towards seeking health advice in time before the cancers reach advanced stages, a situation which reduces the chances of treatment success and increase the cost of treatment as well.
This is a type of cancer which affects the prostate gland. Prostate cancer cases are increasing in Zimbabwe.
It contributed 23,1 percent of all new cancer cases among black males in 2014. It also contributed 9 percent to the total cancer deaths recorded in 2014. Prostate cancer usually affects men 50 years and over.
The prostate secretes a fluid that contributes 20-30 percent of the total volume of seminal fluid.
It is unclear what causes prostate cancer, but it is thought that people who have diets high in animal fats and milk products may have a higher risk of prostate cancer than those with diets which are high in green vegetables which is believed to have protective effect.
In its early stages, prostate cancer often does not cause symptoms. But when they do occur they may include:
- Difficulty in urinating
- Delays in urinating
- Stopping and starting urinating
- A weak stream of urine
- Urinating more often than usual
- Blood in the urine
- Pain and stiffness in the lower back and hips
It is important to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms
Prostate cancer screening
All men who are over 50 years should undergo screening annually. Available screening methods include Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) and Prostate Specific Antigen Tests (PSA).
These are test done by medical practitioners to check for signs of development of cancer.
Prostate cancer usually shows no signs and symptoms in its early stages, therefore it is imperative for all males over 50 years of age to go for screening even without experiencing any symptom of prostate cancer.
The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe Clinic is currently offering the PSA.
You can also consult your health practitioner or nearest clinic for more information on prostate cancer screening.
- For more information contact: The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe; 60 Livingstone Harare (cnr Sixth Street and Livingstone Avenue). Tel: 04- 707444 / 705522 Fax: +263 4 707 482; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @cancerzimbabwe, Website: www.cancerzimbabwe.org: Facebook: The Cancer Association of Zimbabwe.
- Disclaimer: Lovemore Makurirofa writes on behalf of the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe. However, both the Cancer Association of Zimbabwe and the writer will not be responsible for any damage that may arise from the views expressed in this article. This article is not meant to substitute any tailored health advice that you may get from your health/medical practitioner.