Prostate cancer

Updated 16 July 2015

Men who go bald from the front are more likely to get prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is particularly aggressive in South African men and now a study shows that males who go bald from the front are at higher risk of getting it.


Men who go bald from the front are more likely to get prostate cancer, according to new research released on Wednesday.

Aging, a family history of prostate cancer and being of African ancestry also increase a man’s chances of developing prostate cancer.

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This is according to Dr Chantal Babb, who was presenting data from the National Cancer Registry at the Cancer Association of SA (CANSA) Research in Action conference in Stellenbosch this week.

What is the prostate?

The prostate is a small organ about the size of a small plumb or a large walnut. It is tucked away in the lower pelvis, just in front of the rectum, below the bladder and above the base of the penis.

Prostate cancer is particularly aggressive in South African men and also has a high mortality rate, according to the University of Pretoria’s Professor Riana Bornman.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been living with prostate cancer for many years, while former president Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with it in 2001. The average age at which men get the cancer is 68.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among South African men, with one in 26 men likely to get it in their lifetime. Researchers also say that it is on the increase.

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Meanwhile, Vanessa Hayes, a professor of genetics at the University of Sydney, says 52 percent of prostate cancers are inherited although no specific genes have been identified as markers for this cancer unlike with breast cancer.

Men whose fathers or brothers have had prostate cancer have an increased risk for the disease, as do those whose mothers had ovarian cancer.

There are several things that can go wrong with the prostate. It is therefore recommended that every fifty year old man have a prostate examination at least once a year.

What you can expect from a prostate exam?

Several tests are carried out to assess prostate health, but the most common is the digital rectal exam (DRE). During this exam, a doctor will palpate the prostate with most likely his or her index finger to check for:

- Size
- Symmetry (a healthy prostate consists of two equal halves, separated by a narrow groove)
- Lumps
- Firmness (which should be similar to that of the tip of your nose) and texture

The best way to ensure a healthy prostate is to follow a balanced diet with less fatty meat, salt, milk and processed foods and more fibre, fruit, vegetables, fish and whole grains

It is also suggested that veggies like cauliflower, broccoli, radishes, turnips, cabbage, bok choy, as well as asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, carrots, rocket, wasabi, watermelons, pawpaw, soy and nuts may be particularly beneficial.

Also read:

Why Darrel Bristow-Bovey's prostate exam was awkward

Prenatal tests may uncover cancer in mother

High-fat diet may raise prostate cancer fatality risk

Image: Paper with prostate cancer and light blue ribbon from Shutterstock.

Health-e News is South Africa’s award-winning dedicated health news service producing news and in-depth analysis for the country’s print and television media.


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