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Prostate cancer: Know the facts

By Sola Ogundipe

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men worldwide and ranked second as the cause of death in cancer-related diseases.  About 20,000 men die of prostate cancer every year in Nigeria. On daily basis, at least 14 men die in the country.

Men with prostate cancer do not always experience symptoms

Most of the time, men don’t have symptoms. Some men, however, do experience changes in urinary or sexual function, including frequent nighttime urination, painful or burning urination, difficulty getting or maintain an erection or a dull pain in the lower pelvic area.

There’s no one-size-fits-all screening recommendation

Men of average risk are often advised to consider screening earlier at age 40 to establish a baseline. Every man needs to  learn what makes the most sense for their personal health risks and lifestyle.

Screening is to detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages, before any symptoms have developed. That’s when the cancer can be treated most effectively. Screening may include a Prostate-Specific Antigen, PSA, blood test, with or without a Digital Rectal Examination, DRE.

File photo
File photo

Dietary supplements do not prevent prostate cancer There’s no good scientific data to support the use of supplements. Men are far better off leading a healthy lifestyle, managing weight, exercising and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Elevated PSA levels do not always mean cancer

Only about 30 percent of the time does an elevated PSA indicate cancer. Other conditions that can raise PSA include an enlarged prostate due to benign prostatic hyperplasia (which can affect  ability to pass urine), prostatitis (an infection or inflammation of the prostate gland), or even injury or recent ejaculation (which can raise PSA)

African American men are at higher risk than others

Though scientists aren’t sure why, African American men are more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer at a later stage and are more than twice as likely as Caucasian men to die.

A vasectomy does not increase risk for prostate cancer

There’s no evidence of a link with vasectomy and prostate cancer.

Most prostate cancers are diagnosed in older men

Prostate cancer is rarely found in men younger than age 40. In fact, more than 65 percent of prostate cancer is diagnosed in men older than  65.

That’s why it’s important for men to pay attention to any changes in their sexual or urinary health.

Early treatment prevents death

If caught early, prostate cancer has  95 percent survival rate.

Purpose of screening is to detect prostate cancer at its earliest stages, before any symptoms have developed.

That’s when the cancer can be treated most effectively. There are two easy tests that can be done at the doctor’s office: the PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test and the digital rectal examination, DRE.


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