Calling all women to take a stand against prostate cancer

As fathers, they raise us with love, knowledge and good character. As husbands, they fulfil our desire to be loved and share the joys of parenthood. As brothers, they protect us and help solve life’s mysteries. As a best friend, they’re a shoulder to cry on and help us make sensible life decisions.

And sadly, in South Africa, prostate cancer will affect one in six of them.

If detected early, prostate cancer has a 98% survival rate; this falls to 26% if detected in later stages when symptoms finally start to surface. Few men experience early-stage prostate cancer symptoms and even fewer talk to their doctors or go for regular screenings.

Studies show that men are 24% less likely than women to visit a doctor and that 30% of men wait as long as possible before considering a doctor’s visit.

Men often don’t make their physical well-being a priority. According to Dr Rick Kellerman, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, one of the biggest obstacles to improving the health of men is men themselves. For the concerned wife or partner, daughter, mother or sister, this seemingly blatant negligence – often associated with old-school ideas about masculinity – can leave women feeling hopelessly frustrated.

“Man is at his best when complimented by the influence of a good woman.” – Ezra Taft Benson

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to encourage the men you love and respect to go for regular prostate cancer screenings. It starts with a sound understanding of the potential risk factors and symptoms (as well as the potential impact on fertility and sexual function) as these are some of the main fears that keep men from seeing a doctor. Educate yourself and your loved one on the common risk factors, as well as the signs and symptoms associated with the disease.

Here are three tips to encourage the men in your life to get tested:

  • Express understanding: Talking about his fears to see a doctor, whether that be embarrassment or discomfort, is the first step to offering an alternative perspective. Men are often mortified by the idea of a Digital Rectal Examination (DRE) but need to be made aware of other alternatives such as a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test. This is a simple blood test that determines the level of PSA – a protein produced by prostate cells – which tends to rise with the development and growth of prostate cancer.
  • Provide encouragement: Studies show that the majority of men who went for screenings were encouraged by a significant other to visit a doctor. It is, however, up to you to determine whether gentle suggestions or a more direct approach will be most effective. Always offer to go with to screenings but give space where privacy is desired
  • Supply information:Visit Here4You for credible information about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. This will allow you to share brief but relevant details on men’s health issues that concern him. You can also help find a healthcare provider he is likely to feel most comfortable with. Gather information about doctors in your area and ask for recommendations from trusted friends and family members.

Getting tested once a year from the age of 40 can make all the difference and is a small price to pay for peace of mind. Visit Here4You for essential information, support and hope at every stage of prostate cancer.

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Here4You is a portal of information and real-life experiences around prostate cancer. Here4You, providing hope at every stage of the cancer.