Age and family history are two of the most common factors associated with the root cause of prostate cancer.
This is according to urologist Dr Lonwabo Gqoli, who is based at Life Mercantile Hospital in Gqeberha. Gqoli says the sooner you get screened the more likely you are to survive cancer in the prostate.
Prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate (a gland found in the male reproductive system) grow out of control. By virtue of this gland being in males only, this disease only affects men.
While there aren’t any common changes in the bodies and lives of men with this cancer in its early stages, signs of prostate cancer most often show up later as the cancer grows.
“Generally, by the time you notice the symptoms, it is usually a little late for cure in terms of the stage of the cancer, and this is why we do not encourage men to wait for symptoms before going for an examination or screening,” Gqoli says.
Some signs of prostate cancer are struggling to pass urine, blood in the urine, trouble getting an erection and pain in the back, hips, ribs or other bones.
It is not often that men younger than 40 get prostate cancer. And, if you are 40 years and above and have never screened for prostate cancer before, Gqoli says you are due for your first screening as soon as possible.
“When we talk about prostate cancer, we emphasise the importance of screening – something that is called opportunistic screening – where you may not have had symptoms, but you are in the right age group to be screened.”
Men and hospitals
The stereotype that men are strong and not supposed to fall sick seems to be one of the factors contributing to the high number of prostate cancer infections. Because of this misguided theory, men can be much too casual about their own health.
“The health behaviour of men is a problem because you find that some black men are even proud that they have never been to the doctor since birth.”
“It gets more complicated when related to prostate cancer because the disease can get a little more aggressive to African men, but this does not mean that black men are more likely to get prostate cancer than their white or Caucasian counterparts.”
Unfortunately, with this disease there are no ways of dodging the bullet. When it has you, you need to obey the health protocols for treatment.
“As far as I am concerned, there is not one defined preventative measure for prostate cancer. A healthy lifestyle presents a better outcome for everything relating to your well-being.”
While there aren’t any studies that prove that specific foods might fuel prostate cancer, Gqoli believes that there are some carcinogens (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue), with smoking being the most common among them.
“It can be argued that not all men who smoke have prostate cancer. So, there are not any food items, substances or acts that are proven to be effective in decreasing your chances of getting prostate cancer,” Gqoli says.
The warning remains to get screened.