Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer globally however, few studies have been done in Africa regarding this.
What is a Prostate?
The prostate is a walnut sized gland that is part of the male reproductive system and located beneath the bladder in front of the rectum.
Why do men have a prostate?
The prostate makes some of the fluid, or juices, that nourishes and protects the sperm, tadpole like, cells in the semen (cum).
How does the prostate grow and remain active?
The activity and growth of the prostate is stimulated by the male hormones called Androgens. (The two main androgens are ANDROSTERONE and TESTOSTERONE)
Although the exact cause of prostate cancer is unknown, there are certain aspects of life that may increase your chance of having prostate cancer.
• Age: Prostate cancer occurs more often in older men, usually over 50, below the age of 45, prostate cancer is rare.
• Family history: If your father, brother or Grandfather had Prostate cancer you have twice the risk of developing the disease, and those with two of the above, relatives affected have a five times greater risk compared to men with no family history.
• Diet: Having a healthy lifestyle can reduce your chance of developing many diseases.
• Other lifestyle factors: Being fat, not enough exercise and smoking can increase chances of prostate cancer.
• Alcohol intake: Having more than 2 standard sized alcoholic drinks per day is another risk factor for prostate cancer.
Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get Prostate cancer. Most men with any of the above risk factors never develop this disease.
How do I test for Prostate Cancer?
PSA Testing can be done by means of a basic finger prick test and if a positive result is found, a PSA blood test will then be recommended to determine the actual level of the PSA.
Apart from prostate cancer there can be other reasons for a raised PSA level in the blood. These include:
• An enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
• An inflamed prostate
• A bladder infection (cystitis)
• A recent prostate biopsy (it’s advised to wait for a few weeks before doing a PSA test)
A raised PSA level doesn’t necessarily mean you have prostate cancer. Only about 1 in 4 men who have a raised PSA level turn out to have prostate cancer. Your doctor or Sister will need to interpret your PSA result based on your recent activity, age and previous medical history. They can then decide on whether to carry out further tests.
Prostate cancer has the potential to grow and spread very quickly. It is important for patients to discuss their various testing options with their doctor or onsite nurse.
Written by: Belinda van Wyk (Marketing assistant HSP Group SA)