The ABCs of prostate cancer and getting tested

Picture: Pexels

Picture: Pexels

Published Nov 15, 2018


When it comes to prostate cancer and rectal examinations, years of unchallenged misconceptions have ignited fear in South African men. But did you know that a simple blood test can effectively diagnose prostate cancer and save your life?

Another misconception is that prostate cancer is the end. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is hope at every stage of prostate cancer. Caught early, it is completely curable with a survival rate of over 90%. Don’t get caught up in old wives’ tales about the prostate and prostate cancer. Join a community that gives you the facts.

The prostate and its vital function

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, located between the bladder and the penis. A small tube called the urethra runs through the centre and lets urine and sperm flow through. The function of the prostate is to produce a fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm. This fluid contains an enzyme, called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which liquefies semen, allowing it to enter into the uterus with ease and swim freely.

The need to know about prostate cancer

Unlike other organs in your body which grow to full size during puberty, the prostate continues to grow as you age. It is made up of five lobes either on the interior or exterior of the prostate. As with any other cancer, prostate cancer is the overgrowth of cells beyond the body’s ability to control. Prostate cancer usually starts on the interior and can block the passage of urine and sperm. If not treated, prostate cancer can spread to other organs in the body. 

Learn to read body language

The body speaks in a language of its own which makes underlying problems quite easy to miss or dismiss. Make a habit of examining your urination for obstructions and blood, and become aware of how often you need to urinate. Age brings about many genetic changes in the body and significantly increases the likelihood of the disease. Prostate cancer is on the rise in South Africa, especially among younger black men, so make it a priority to go for regular screenings from a young age.

You are what you eat, drink and smoke

What is good for the heart, brain and lungs, is without a doubt also good for the prostate. Exercise frequently and get into healthy dietary habits. Feel free to indulge in superfoods that can fight and destroy cancer cells. The goal is to cut down on lifestyle factors such as smoking and an unhealthy diet with the desire to eliminate lifestyle risks from your life.

Know what options you have

The stages of prostate cancer are determined by specific classifications. The level and risk of prostate cancer ranges from low and intermediate to high. And is determined based on the stage, prostate size, biopsy results and PSA level, which can be ready from blood test results. More information can be found here.

When prostate cancer is low risk, active surveillance is recommended every three to six months. High risk will include treatment ranging from prostatectomy, chemotherapy and radiation to injections, under deprivation and palliative therapy.

Despite any preconceived notions, there is so much that can be done at every stage of prostate cancer. So take heart, spread the good news and don’t skip over those vital screening visits.


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