As men’s health takes centre stage this month, prostate cancer emerges as a stealthy yet formidable foe, quietly assuming its position as one of the most prevalent malignancies among South African men. To shed light on this crucial issue, we engaged in a conversation with Lorraine Govender, the national manager of the Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa).
Often people will say that they have heard of cancer but they don’t know what they can do to reduce the risk of getting cancer. Govender explains that this is exactly the focus of her work in health promotion, which involves creating awareness around the disease and how to reduce the risk factors.
Govender is also passionate about education and information distribution on grassroots levels so that people can understand the different types of cancers and be informed about what to do and where to access services.
Prevalence in SA
Prostate cancer features as the top cancer amongst men in South Africa, with a staggering one in every 20 men affected by the disease. The tricky part is that prostate cancer can be elusive and can often manifest without any signs or symptoms.
Research shows that advanced-stage symptoms can include:
- Frequent passing of urine (especially at night);
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination;
- Unable to pass freely (i.e., not a constant flow);
- Painful/burning sensation when urination/ejaculation;
- Blood in the urine or semen;
- Deep pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.
Due to the slow-growing nature of this cancer, Govender emphasises the importance of regular screening.
Despite its prevalence, prostate cancer remains a shrouded topic, often avoided due to its impact on male reproductive functions, including sperm production, semen quality, and ejaculation. Govender explains that men might feel vulnerable and fear being viewed as lesser of a man.
In the podcast, Govender also discusses:
- Risk management factors which focus on both age and ethnicity,
- Regular screening and testing; and
- How places of employment can create safe spaces in this regard.
Support services such as telly-counselling, support groups and information are found on the CANSA website.
Listen to the full interview on the Health For Mzansi podcast:
Apple Podcasts: Click here to listen on any Apple device.
Google Podcasts: Click here to listen on Google Podcast.
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