By: Natasha Archary
The “Big Five Cancers” include prostate, colorectal, Kaposi Sarcoma (a type of skin cancer), lung cancer and bladder cancer.
Men are less likely to get a routine medical check-up than women. Prostate cancer ranks at the top of the list of cancers that men in South Africa test positive for. Many men choose to ignore the first warning signs that something may be wrong in the nether regions.
Why is a prostate screening important?
According to CANSA, prostate cancer is the most common of The “Big Five” cancers affecting men, in South Africa.
The scary thing is that early onset prostate cancer can be completely asymptomatic. So by the time you notice signs or symptoms, the likelihood that the cancer has spread beyond the confines of the prostatic capsule are high.
Testicular cancer is another concern for men. Much like breast cancer, men can check for abnormalities in the area monthly. Watch for irregular increases in size or lumps in the testicles.
What screening entails
Consult with your family doctor at least once a year. With solid knowledge of your medical history, your doctor will be able to perform the necessary prostate exam or refer you to a urologist for the PSA screening.
The rectal exam may be a little invasive but it is often the quickest way to rule out prostate cancer. Many doctors still prefer this method of screening because the PSA screenings may not be completely accurate. Some drugs may lower or increase the level of PSA resulting in a false positive or false negative. Something to keep in mind when making a decision on how to screen.
How often should men be screened?
A prostate exam should be done once every four years for men 40 and up. If you have a family history of prostate or testicular cancer, you are advised to screen once a year.
Should you start to notice any of the following symptoms, consult with your doctor:
- Higher frequency of urinating
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Interrupted, weak or slow urinary stream
- Blood in urine or semen
- Discomfort, pain or burning sensation with urination or ejaculation
- Intense pain on the lower back, hips or thighs
This depends on the stage of the cancer as well as other factors that are directly linked to you, i.e. life expectancy, other chronic conditions you may have, lifestyle etc. However, surgery and radiation are facilitated to aim for total cure. There are hormonal treatment options which are there to limit further progression of the disease.
Doctors still do not have all the answers when it comes to cancer, but they do advise a diet that limits a high intake of red meat, dietary fat and a sober, active lifestyle.
Tomatoes are said to contain lycopene, a cancer-preventing ingredient, and it’s suggested that men increase this as well as Omega 3 rich foods and antioxidants like selenium and vitamins D and E.