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Nov 08, 2021

According to Men’s Foundation, one in every 23 South African men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime and on average five men die from prostate cancer every day in SA. Moreover, prostate cancer is the most common male cancer both locally and globally, with more than 4 300 men in SA newly diagnosed each year. If the stats alone are not enough to convince you to go for your prostate-specific antigen (PSA) screening, perhaps the following will…

What is prostate cancer?

The prostate is a gland found just below the bladder in the male reproductive system. Abnormal growth of cells in the prostate, resulting in a tumour, may be an indication of cancer. Though prostate cancer often develops slowly, there are cancer types that can spread quickly (even to other parts of your body) if not treated.

Symptoms are mostly not experienced during the early stages of prostate cancer. During later stages, you may experience frequent bathroom visits, difficulty urinating, painful or burning sensation while urinating or ejaculating, and erectile dysfunction. You may also find blood in your urine or semen. Advanced stage symptoms may include pain and stiffness in your upper thighs, hips and back.

While it’s important to know the warning signs, it’s always best to detect cancer during its early stages (even though you may not have symptoms). Early detection means that you may receive effective treatment early, improving your chances of recovery.

Who is most at risk?

Your age, ethnicity and family medical history may be large contributing risk factors of prostate cancer. Generally, men from age 50 are at risk of prostate cancer. However, if a close family member has developed prostate cancer, your risk of developing prostate cancer may be doubled and PSA screening from age 40 is recommended. Research also indicates that black men are at higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer.

Other risk factors include obesity and a poor diet. It’s recommended that you limit red meat and high-fat dairy products, and include fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet to decrease your risk.

What is a PSA screening?

A PSA screening is a simple blood test that can detect high levels of a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA). Both cancerous and non-cancerous prostate tissue produce PSA. If your PSA levels are high, it may be an indication of an inflamed prostate or cancer.

Why is PSA screening important?

It can’t be emphasised enough that early detection, especially because symptoms aren’t usually experienced at early stages of prostate cancer, is vital to improve your chances of recovery. A simple PSA screening may help to detect early signs of cancer, so treatment can start right away to help stop the disease from spreading.

What can I do to prevent prostate cancer?

Besides regular screening and a healthy lifestyle , monthly testicular self-examinations are recommended. Here’s a quick ‘how to’ guide:

  1. After a warm bath or shower, use both hands to cup one testicle at a time.

  2. Roll the testicle between your thumb and fingers, using slight pressure.

  3. Feel for irregularities, lumps and changes in size. Note that it’s normal for one testicle to be larger than the other.

Bestmed’s preventative care benefit

Bestmed Medical Scheme offers PSA screenings, as a preventative care benefit, to men aged 50 and above, every 24 months, on all options except Beat1. Book an appointment with your healthcare provider today.

Bestmed’s Oncology care programme

In the unfortunate event that you’re diagnosed with prostate cancer, Bestmed offers support through our Oncology care programmeThe Scheme also gives you the option to switch to a higher benefit option (Pace3 and Pace4), which gives you access to enhanced oncology benefits and resources to help you fight against the disease.

References

CANSA. 2021. Men’s Health: Men & Cancer. Available [Online]: https://cansa.org.za/mens-health/. [Accessed: 4 November 2021].

Men’s Foundation. 2021. Prostate cancer: The facts. Available [Online]: https://mensfoundation.co.za/mens-health/prostate-cancer/ [Accessed: 4 November 2021].

Movember Foundation. n.d. PSA testing: To test or not to test? Available [Online]: https://cdn.movember.com/uploads/files/Your%20Health/SIU_PSAtest.pdf [Accessed: 5 November 2021].

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