Growing up as a Teenager in Nigeria of the 80s, Cancer was not a word commonly talked about. It seemed like a Taboo topic perhaps because at the time there were limited options for treatment in the Country.
I recall a highly distinguished Professor at the time said to have Prostate Cancer and I felt saddened because I realized that Cancer is not a respecter of persons, status or financial means. In today’s era, Cancer treatment has become advanced- Advances that include personalized genomic testing that can guide targeted individualized treatment, providing the best outcome.
Nigeria is still a long way from this type of Healthcare advancement. We need to take strides in training Nigeria’s Oncologists to position them in providing the latest treatment advances.
SCREENING FOR PROSTATE CANCER
I am launching this program with a topic that is commonly talked about in Nigeria and that is prostate cancer screening in Nigeria. I want to share some very important information, especially on screening for this disease. TO KEEP IT SIMPLE, HERE ARE SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
WHAT IS PROSTATE CANCER? Prostate cancer is a growth of abnormal cells that occurs in the prostate gland. The prostate gland is located below the bladder of males. Its function is in reproductive and sexual health. Prostate cancer is a cancer seen in men, particularly in older men or those with a family history of prostate cancer.
WHAT IS SCREENING? Screening means looking for an illness or disease or cancer before signs or symptoms appear. Screening can help prevent a disease or sickness from becoming serious by prevention or early treatment. The decision to screen should be discussed with your Doctor.
WHY IS SCREENING IMPORTANT? In Nigeria, Men with prostate cancer can present with advanced disease due to lack of awareness and information about screening for prostate cancer. Screening for Prostate Cancer can detect cancer early and may reduce illnesses and deaths.
WHEN AND HOW IS SCREENING DONE? Screening is done every year starting age 45 to 50 by a blood test called PSA (prostate specific antigen) with or without a rectal exam.
HOW IS PROSTATE CANCER DETECTED? Diagnosis of prostate cancer is confirmed by prostate biopsy. This is done by a Urology specialist.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT? Treatment of prostate cancer depends on the severity of the cancer, age of patient and patient’s preference. Treatment can be by medication, surgery or radiation.
As a reminder, yearly tests can be done around your birthday so that screening for this condition can be done on a regular schedule.
Written by Dr. Ngozi Onuoha.
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