Regular prostate check-ups could save your life

18 October 2017 - 14:38 By Suthentira Govender
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for South African men.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer for South African men.
Image: iStock

60-year-old David Lucas - an ordinary Johannesburg man - has one thing in common with greats like Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

He‚ like the South African icons‚ was diagnosed with prostate cancer - the most common cancer for South African men.

Ahead of the annual Movember campaign‚ which encourages men to grow moustaches during the month of November to raise funds for and create awareness about male cancers‚ the Men’s Foundation has urged South African men to get screened‚ particularly for prostrate cancer. More than 4‚000 men are diagnosed with the condition annually.

When detected early‚ prostate cancer survival rates are better than 98%. Found late‚ those survival rates drop below 26%.

When detected early‚ prostate cancer survival rates are better than 98%. Found late‚ those survival rates drop below 26%

“There is a lack of awareness and general knowledge about prostate cancer. Know the facts and take action early‚” says Garron Gsell‚ chief executive and founder of the Men’s Foundation‚ which manages the Movember campaign in South Africa.

“When it comes to their health‚ too many men don’t talk and don’t take action. The tragedy is that many men have died early and unnecessarily because they didn’t reach out for help when they needed it.”

Movember is a global men’s health charity‚ funding over 1‚200 projects in 21 countries worldwide – focusing on prostate cancer‚ testicular cancer‚ mental health and suicide prevention.

“Know your family history and if you notice something isn’t feeling right‚ don’t put it off and hope it goes away. Annual health checks are vital‚ along with a monthly testicular self-examination which can help make you aware of your body and able to note any changes‚” Gsell says.

“We can’t afford to stay silent. We have one goal: to stop men dying too young.”

Lucas said the diagnosis has been a blessing in disguise. “I would have thought of it as a life sentence. But now I totally agree with Judge Neels Claassen who says that cancer patients are favoured by God.”

For someone whose cancer journey has not been easy due to delays in treatment and battles with medical aid‚ and who is still not completely clear of the disease‚ it may seem like a strange thing to say.

But for Lucas who turned 60 in September‚ his cancer diagnosis in 2012 allowed him to make many positive decisions about his life.

“I have been given the time to make things right‚” he says. “I am determined to really live for at least the next 20 years."

Lucas is the first to admit that the prostate examination is not pleasant‚ and that a positive diagnosis means some very embarrassing moments during treatment “but it is a whole lot more pleasant than dying too soon”.

“If I had diabetes‚ I would have to make a complete lifestyle change and to give up many of the things I love‚” he said.

“Now that I have prostate cancer‚ the biggest change in my life has been my determination to reach out to other men and to make them aware of the need for regular check-ups. Don’t let anything stand in the way of you getting the medical advice and care that you need.”

SYMPTOMS OF PROSTATE CANCER:

  • A 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. - TimesLIVE
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