Prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers in men, with every man in South Africa at risk for prostate cancer. It is estimated that 1 in 6 men will be affected.
There aren’t usually symptoms in the early stages of prostate cancer, but there are indicative symptoms of prostate cancer – which may also be associated with other non-cancerous conditions. These include erection difficulties, blood in the semen, urinary problems and lower back pain. This makes regular screening very important.
The more education and awareness created about prostate cancer, the more likely men are to go for screening tests. Cancer is something we all fear, but it remains a distant relative – until it knocks on your door and informs you that it’s moving in. I always had a yearly medical and the ritual and indignation of a rectal examination (another male thing we all hate). From these regular examinations, it was found I had an enlarged prostate. A blood test indicated my PSA levels were higher than normal. I was then sent for a biopsy to determine the cause of my high PSA levels.
The results of the biopsy came back positive and in one phone call, my heart sank as I heard those words “Iain, I’m afraid the results came back positive.”. You hear the words but still struggle to come to terms with them. The first thing I did was to put my life into perspective, realising there were many people less fortunate than myself – people who have serious health issues, are managing disabilities, terminal diseases or who are living in abject poverty. These people are all faced with far greater challenges than me every day.
I am, by nature, a positive person and always look for the positive outcome or solution as opposed to spending immeasurable time discussing the problem. It was Einstein who said ‘’Problems are seldom solved with the same degree of intelligence that created them’.
I – like most people – have read great heart-warming stories of cancer survivors. I’ve also unfortunately heard the sad stories of those whose cancer was so severe, they succumbed to the disease. Prostate cancer, however, is the one form of cancer that can be successfully treated and managed – provided it’s detected early.
It’s important to have people to talk to, be they family members, friends or professional people – anyone you’re comfortable with. I’m always available to anyone who’s faced with the uncertainty of what lies ahead – if they find themselves diagnosed with prostate cancer, or even if they’re just apprehensive about annual check-ups. Whatever you do, please go for your annual check-up. Early detection will save your life.