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January 13, 2024

Bring prostate matters out of the closet, By Francis Ewherido

Francis ewherido

Today, I want us to look at prostate challenges: prostatitis and enlarged prostate (benign or malignant).The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, seminal vesicles, and testicles. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra (the tube that empties urine from the bladder).

The first, prostatitis is an inflammation of the prostate gland that may result from bacterial infections or other sources. The second, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), means that the prostate is enlarged but not cancerous. BPH is not linked to cancer and does not increase your risk of getting prostate cancer. The problem and what causes anxiety among men is that the symptoms of BPH and prostate cancer are largely similar! Moreover, BPH can give enough discomfort to make life miserable for a man.

The symptoms include: need to urinate frequently, especially at night; difficulty starting urination or holding back urine, weak or interrupted flow of urine, painful or burning urination, difficulty in having an erection, painful ejaculation, blood in urine or semen, frequent pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, or upper thighs. The others symptoms are commonly manifested in prostatitis, but the last two symptoms are especially scary and may need immediate medical attention.The last is the dreaded prostate cancer. Some people in their 50s or more have lost friends, acquaintances or relatives to prostate cancer. The only good news is that prostate cancer, like many other cancers, can be treated or managed if it is detected early. But once it spreads, there is trouble. It also easily aggravates the health conditions of people with underlying ailments.

That is why it is very important for us to be open with prostate challenges. Let us bring everything out of the closet. An ailment (prostate cancer) that kills thousands of men worldwide every year should not be a hush-hush matter. Researchers say black men are among the group prone to prostate inflammation, prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. These are clear and present dangers that men above 40 face and we should feel free to discuss and share knowledge if not publicly, then with our personal physician, close and trustworthy friends and families. 

These days I talk with my close friends and family freely and regularly. Why not? I do not want to lose a dear one to death that is avoidable. If some of those people who died as a result of prostate cancer were more open, they would probably be alive today. According to a report, an estimated 14,334 deaths in the year 2020 were as a result of prostate cancer (GLOBOCAN, 2021). Additionally, Nigeria had the highest number of deaths from prostate cancer (among men 0-84 years) with 8,382 (58.5%) deaths out of 14,334. The American Cancer Society’s estimates for prostate cancer in the United States for 2023 are: About 288,300 new cases and about 34,700 deaths from prostate cancer. It is the second cancer killer of men in the US with lung cancer coming first.

I heard quite early that once a man turns 40, he should check his prostate regularly because that is when the enlargement starts. I took interest immediately. I did because my mother taught me early in life that “the stick you see must not accidentally pierce your eyes.” I started doing annual prostate check-up in my 40s by alternating between PSA and physical examination annually. As I grew older, I started doing PSA and physical examination annually. Now I do them at least twice a year. The key to overcoming prostate cancer is early detection. If detected early, medical personnel localise it and deal with it.

 Sometimes the affected person needs to be brutal. Two men had prostate cancer. Both were told that the solution was the chopping off of their testicles. That of course meant they could not father a child anymore. In addition, removal of both testicles can also lead to the lack of testosterone, low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction. The good news is being alive and free from prostate cancer. Anyway, the first man said he was already done with childbearing and allowed his balls to be chopped off. He is very much alive and cancer-free today. The second man, a high chief, took a look at his harem: “what will happen to them,” he wondered. He dilly-dallied. Before long, the cancer spread. By the time he made up his mind to have his balls chopped off, it was too late. He died.

For the sake of men who do not know the fate that befalls all men. The prostate gland rests below the bladder and in front of your rectum. That is why a scan is inserted through the anus when the medical personnel want to examine the prostate gland. Physical examination is important because PSA only might not tell the whole story of your prostate. PSA and physical examination (scan) gives a more accurate result, because they have their strong and weak points.  Since the symptoms of prostatitis, BPH, and prostate cancer overlap, PSA and physical examination might not be conclusive when checking if the prostate is cancerous. Doctors recommend going further to do a biopsy: taking and examining of tissue removed from the prostate to determine if the prostate is benign or malignant.

These procedures (physical examination and biopsy) are like a woman in the labour room. She nor dey wear pant and no shame for the matter. We are talking of a matter of life and death. There is no place for shyness.

 Let me conclude by going personal. When it comes to dealing with issues relating to the prostate, I adopt both modern medicine and herbal medicine. Annual checkup, physical examination, PSA and biopsy are all modern medicine. But when it comes to managing and treatment, I prefer natural solutions, including herbal medicine. The most important thing is to ensure that the prostate does not become cancerous and if it becomes cancerous, it should be detected early.

As far as I know, there is still no cure for cancer, so I believe all the claims of cure I see on social media are fake. I have been involved in trying to save the lives of men with prostate cancer that has spread to other parts of the body. They all died, so I challenge the people who claim to have a cure for prostate cancer to step forward. Apart from cancerous prostate, I  believe in our local solution for prostatitis and BPH. I have been experimenting with herbs and foods (lycopene that comes from tomato products) with limited success and I will continue to. If you are worried if herbal medicine might have negative impact on your vital organs (heart, liver, kidney, etc.), do annual checkups. I have been doing annual checkups and the results have been positive, sometimes even better than the previous year. When I find a more potent herbal solution, the world will hear. Men, we must join hands to fight this battle. Na our matter.

NB: Special thanks to my cousin, Dr. Martina Agberien who went through the article and made some useful inputs.