Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with every man in South Africa at risk for prostate cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 6 men will be affected.
There are normally no symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer but some indicative symptoms of prostate cancer, but may also be associated with other non-cancerous conditions are erection difficulties, blood in the semen, urinary problems and lower back pain, so regular screening is very important
The more education and awareness that is created about prostate the more likely men are to go for screening tests. Cancer is something that we all fear, but it remains like a distant relative, until it knocks on your door and informs you that it is moving in! I always went for my yearly medical, the ritual and indignation of a rectal examination (another male thing we all hate to have) and from these regular examinations discovered that I had an enlarged prostate and a blood test indicated that my PSA levels (Prostate specific antigen which can indicate prostate cancer, inflammation or infection of the prostate) were higher than normal. I was then sent for a biopsy to determine the cause of my high PSA levels. The results of the biopsy came back positive and in one phone call, my heart sank as I heard those words ‘Iain I am afraid the results came back positive…’. You hear the words but still struggle to come to terms with it. So the first thing I did was to put my life into perspective by realising that there were many people who were less fortunate than myself, people that had serious health issues, managing disabilities, terminal diseases or who were living in abject poverty, all of who are all faced with far greater challenges every day that me.
I am by nature a positive person and always look for the positive outcome or solution as opposed to spending immeasurable time on discussing the problem, for it was Einstein who said that ‘Problems and seldom solved with the same degree of intelligence that created them’.
I, like most people, have read great heart-warming stories of cancer survivors and unfortunately also the sad stories of those that, due to the severity of the cancer, have succumbed to the disease. Prostate cancer however is the one form of cancer, in men that can be successfully treated and managed, provided it is detected early.
It is important to have people to talk to, be they family members, friends or professional people, whoever you are comfortable with. I am always available to anyone who is faced with the uncertainty of what lies ahead if they find themselves having been diagnosed with prostate cancer, or even someone who is apprehensive about the annual check-ups. But whatever you do PLEASE go for your annual check-up, early detection will save your life.