Abu Dhabi: More than two-thirds of men in the UAE may be putting themselves at risk for advanced prostate and testicular cancers because they do not know the symptoms of the disease, and do not check in with their doctors annually.
A survey of 1,000 people in the UAE by the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi (CCAD) found that 62 per cent of men did not know, or were unsure, about the common risks of prostate cancer. In addition, 79 per cent of the men surveyed said they did not know how to conduct a testicular cancer self-exam.
The risk also rises because 62 per cent of men do not schedule an annual check-up with their doctor, with 28 per cent claiming that they are too busy and 22 per cent of men saying they are too fearful. In fact, only 31 per cent of men surveyed said they seek medical advise immediately if they are sick or in pain, while 29 per cent wait as long as possible to see if they feel better. Another 15 per cent of men also first look for solutions online.
“Prostate cancer is the second-most common cancer in men worldwide, while testicular cancer is the most common malignancy among men 20 to 40 years old. Too many men are unaware of the health risks they face and the actions they should be taking to ensure they have the best quality of life,” says Dr. Waleed A. Hassen, chair of the Department of Urology at the CCAD’s Surgical Subspecialties Institute.
According to the doctor, the CCAD survey highlights a gap in community awareness about common and curable cancers that affect men. “One of the challenges that we face is that prostate cancer is considered a disease of ageing, which is not the case, and is also one of the most asymptomatic cancers. So, it is not considered a threat. This means we typically only see patients at a very advanced stage. We encourage men to start scheduling routine check-ups with their urologist from the age of 40 and pay attention to even the slightest change in urination patterns or pain,” Dr Hassen urged.
According to the American Cancer Society, discussions of screening for prostate cancer should start at age 50 years for men at an average risk. But patients should consider getting a check-up earlier if there are symptoms, including the inability to urinate and pain or blood during urination, or risk factors like lifestyle and a family history of the disease. Screening includes a clinical exam, a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and a sonogram.
Patients should remain positive because the five-year survival rate for most men with local or regional prostate cancer is nearly 100 per cent. In the advanced stages however, this drops to 31 per cent if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. “When it comes to testicular cancer, all men should conduct a monthly self-exam upon reaching puberty to note any changes or lumps as this is important for early detection. This must also be part of a patient’s annual physical exam with their doctor,” Dr Hassen advised.
In addition to delaying medical advice, men who were surveyed also said they were less likely to discuss urological issues with their doctors, with only 29 per cent agreeing to being comfortable doing so in comparison to other health issues. For instance, 50 per cent of the men are comfortable discussing heart health, 43 per cent easily discuss respiratory health, 39 per cent bring up mental health concerns, and 69 per cent discuss general wellness with their doctors.
A total of 62 per cent survey respondents also reported a spike in their stress levels owing to the COVID-19 pandemic this year, but 74 per cent claimed an overall high level of physical well-being, and 71 per cent said they were doing well mentally. In a positive trend, about 42 per cent of men even said that they feel healthier than last year, while 39 per cent said they still felt the same.