Among the various cancers that plague the male folk, prostate cancer is the most common and aggressive. And unfortunately, black men are more at risk of the disease than any other race, according to health experts.
Indeed, grim statistics in Nigeria show that the disease is the number one killer of Nigerian men.
In most cases, prostate cancer symptoms are not apparent in the early stages of the disease. The symptoms may be different for each person and any one of these symptoms may be caused by other conditions. As a result, routine screenings in the form of digital rectal exams and Prostate-Specific Androgen, PSA, tests are important.
A victim of this fast killing cancer ‘name withheld’ said he was not sure what was wrong with him and he nearly died before a colleague of his advised him to meet a specialist. “I have been hearing about prostrate health issues but never really took it serious as even one of my colleagues advised that I should also go for a check-up, which unfortunately, I never did.
However, when I started having pains and getting weaker as weeks went by with the pains gradually coming and going I became uncomfortable,
“After various test carried out, it was revealed I had prostate cancer which was in its early stage and needed to start taking care of myself if I didn’t want any further damage. I also got to know that prostate cancer forms in the tissues of the prostate and grows slowly as one grows older until the person dies.
“If care is not taken by that person, I was made to understand that it could cause impotency and ultimately death as there has been recorded cases of people dying from it all over the world,” he said.
According to him, he realised that men who have pot belly, arthritis or even diabetes are more prone to developing prostate cancer than the average person. So it’s advisable that men go for medical check-up.
Abia Nzelu, a doctor and the Executive Secretary, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy, CECP, said that a report stated that prostate cancer has a mortality rate of over 80 percent in Nigeria. “A recent report by World Health Organization, WHO, shows that within a period of four years, deaths from prostate cancer in Nigeria increased by almost 100 per cent.
“The report showed that prostate cancer now kills 26 Nigerian men every day ‘up from 14 men every day,” she said.
According to her, prostate cancer occurs more often among Africans. “It also occurs at an early age and is more aggressive in blacks, therefore, all Nigerian men are at increased risk of prostate cancer,” she said.
Abia said that it’s hereditary and that having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles one’s risk. “The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those with an affected father.
“Men with several affected relatives have a much higher risk, particularly if their relatives were young at the time the cancer was found,” she stated.
She noted that one’s lifestyle and diet contribute to having the disease. “People that eat a lot of red meat tend to have higher rate of prostate cancer than those that eat lots of fish, vegetables and the likes.
“Excessive weight increase is another factor which puts a person at a higher risk than those with moderate weight. Lack of exercise ‘inactivity’, is another risk factor. People who don’t exercise have high risk of prostate cancer; even if you are trim, and you don’t exercise, you are at risk of having prostate cancer.
“Other factors are smoking and people with diabetes. People living with diabetics are at higher risk and are more likely to die of prostate cancer than others,” she said.
However, the risk factors do not tell us everything. Many people with one or more risk factors may never have cancer, while others who have cancer may have had few or no known risk factors, she explained.
Felicita Ogbu, a doctor said that it’s advisable that every man above the age of 40 should visit the hospital at least every four to six months for proper check on the condition of the prostate glands and that “60% of men after 45 years have a high tendency of having prostatitis either infected, non-infected, cancerous or benign”.
According to her, men with early stage prostate cancer who make intensive changes in diet and lifestyle may stop or perhaps even reverse the progression of the illness.
“It’s possible to reduce the risk of prostate cancer or other cancers with a proper diet and exercise. Foods like Legumes, soya, tomatoes, spinach, berries and coffee are known to have a very high antioxidant effect which can help lower the risk of any type of cancer which prostate is part of,” she said.