When screening tests such as a PSA blood test and/or a digital rectal examination reveal that prostate cancer is a possibility, an MRI is helpful, but the diagnosis will be made by performing an ultrasound guided biopsy. Unfortunately the expertise & equipment to perform ultrasound guided prostate biopsies just doesn’t exist in most rural areas which is probably why most men in these areas present with prostate cancer when it has already spread (metastatic prostate cancer). At this point, prostate cancer cannot be cured, which is why we at the Prostate Cancer Foundation believe that something needs to be changed.
Making prostate cancer biopsies available in rural areas is no mean feat. It requires cooperation between teaching hospitals who can provide the expertise, the private sector who can help by donating some of the equipment and a doctor with a passion for improving men’s health in South Africa. All of these came together during November 2019 when Siemens donated an ultrasound machine to us. The Dr with the passion for men’s health is Dr Riana Bornman who is also an avid researcher. The Head of Urology at Sefako Makgatho, Prof Shingai Mutambirwa is helping with the expertise.
Hopefully this will be the start of many more partnerships that can help with the early detection of prostate cancer in rural areas. We need to improve the stage at which we diagnose prostate cancer in South Africa to prevent men from suffering and dying unnecessarily.