Dubai: They say men don’t usually talk and take preventive action when it comes to their health. Doctors in the UAE would like to change this perception and raise awareness for men’s health – specifically how to prevent and have early detection of prostate cancer.
This comes at an opportune time, as this month, November, is also called ‘Movember or ‘No-Shave November’, a fad that started in 2003 that has turned into a global movement – where men grow their best moustache in support of advocating for men’s health.
Even without growing a moustache, one can always support the cause of raising awareness for cancer, Dr Mohamed Horan, specialist urology at NMC Royal Hospital, Sharjah, told Gulf News. “One only has to know about the disease and help others become aware of it as early detection is crucial in savings one’s life,” he added.
Dr Horan said: “Cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the prostate, it is called prostate cancer. Not including skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men.”
“All men are at risk for prostate cancer,” he added, noting: “The most common risk factor is age. The older a man is, the greater the chance of getting prostate cancer. One is also at increased risk for getting or dying from prostate cancer if he is African-American or have a family history of prostate cancer.”
Dr Ahmed Hindawi, specialist urology at Saudi German Hospital Sharjah, said: “Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after 50. Moreover, about six in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.”
Dr Hindawi also said “the reasons for racial and ethnic differences are not clear, particularly for African-American men. Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America”.
He added: “As for family history, if you have more than one first-degree relative [father, son, or brother] who had prostate cancer, including relatives in three generations on your mother’s or father’s side of the family, then you will be at high risk of getting prostate cancer.”
Signs and symptoms
Doctors say the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer are sexual dysfunction, weakness or numbness in limbs, changes in bladder habits, frequent pain, blood in urine, difficulty starting urination, weak or interrupted flow of urine, trouble emptying the bladder completely, pain or burning during urination, blood in the urine or semen, painful ejaculation; urinating often, especially at night, and pain in the back, hips, or pelvis that doesn’t go away.
“But one has to keep in mind that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than prostate cancer,” they added.
Doctors highly recommend screening for prostate cancer for men after the age of 50 or earlier, if other risk factors are present. Most prostate cancers are first found as a result of screening with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test or a digital rectal exam (DRE).
“Men who choose to be tested who have a PSA of less than 2.5 ng/mL may only need to be retested every 2 years. Screening should be done yearly for men whose PSA level is 2.5 ng/mL or higher,” said Dr Nilkamal Joshi, head of department and specialist urology at NMC Specialty Hospital, Al Ain.
“Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men [after skin cancer], but only one in 41 men die from prostate cancer. It is a slow-growing tumour.”
Dr Joshi said prostate cancer can be prevented. “Many risk factors such as age, race, and family history can’t be controlled. But there are some things you can do that might lower your risk of prostate cancer.”
“One has to watch his body weight, do physical activities, and have a good diet. Follow a healthy eating pattern; avoid or limit red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages. Get regular screenings,” he added.
“Early disease detection can be achieved by screening and individualised risk adapted strategy. A rectal examination by a doctor can sometimes detect prostate cancer.”
Time to get screened
Professor Dr Haluk Kulaksizoglu, consultant urology at Neuro Spinal Hospital Dubai, said: “Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men. But also one of the cancers that can be cured or managed so that it will not affect the life span of those who have it. Correct diagnoses at the right time is crucial for the management of the disease.”
“Prostate cancer does not give any symptoms until it is widespread. That is why all guidelines dictate a prostate cancer screening to be done for all men over the age of 50. But in some cases where there are risk factors the screening age drops down to 45,” he added.
“Prostate cancer diagnosis does not mean that you will die soon, even though the word ‘cancer’ carries a certain stigma. The biopsy report tells us about the types of cells. This is important in decision making.
“The treatment options for prostate cancer regardless of the stage, has improved significantly over the last decade. In patients in whom the cancer is diagnosed at a stage where the cancer has not grown outside of the prostate, the cure rate is almost 100 per cent with surgery or radiotherapy. Each case of prostate cancer needs tailored treatments with experienced, multidisciplinary teams.”
Dr Kulaksizoglu also gave a strong reminder: “Prostate cancer is a common and lethal disease. Seeing patients with advanced disease just because they ignored a simple prostate check is sad. If they were diagnosed earlier, they and their loved ones would have suffered much less and the life expectancy would be the same as of any men without cancer at the same age group.”
What is the prostate?
Prostate is a part of the male reproductive system, which includes the penis, prostate, seminal vesicles, and testicles. The prostate is located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It is about the size of a walnut and surrounds the urethra. It produces fluid that makes up a part of semen.
Key numbers for prostate cancer
According to American Cancer Society, “prostate cancer is the most common cancer among males in the US, aside from skin cancer”.
• In the US this year, there are 268,490 new cases and about 34,500 deaths from prostate cancer
• About 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.
• Prostate cancer is more likely to develop in older men and in non-Hispanic Black men.
• About 6 cases in 10 are diagnosed in men who are 65 or older, and it is rare in men under 40.
• The average age of men at diagnosis is about 66.
• About 1 man in 41 will die of prostate cancer.
• Prostate cancer can be a serious disease, but most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 3.1 million men in the US who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer are still alive today.