Prostate cancer

Updated 21 February 2018

Movember: grow your 'Mo' for a good cause

Whether you call it a bro-merang, your lip rug or your upper lipholstery, growing a moustache has never been more important.

Second most common cause of cancer death

What did Burt Reynolds, Albert Einstein, Friedrich Nietzsche, Eddie Murphy and Frank Zappa all have in common?

Moustaches, yes, but also prostate cancer. That’s because prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death, after lung cancer.

However, an American survey shows that the majority of men, much like world famous musician Frank Zappa, are still reluctant to schedule regular medical examinations or to have their prostates checked.

Read: New prostate cancer drug may increase survival

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in America reported in 2010 that only 57% of men had visited the doctor within the past year, compared with about 74% of women.

Is it possible that South African men may be no different to their global counterparts when it comes to doctors visits?

There are no hard figures to suggest this, but if the rate of prostate cancer among South African men is anything to go by, they may be as averse to medical exams as American males.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in South Africa among men. According to the Cancer Association of South Africa, one in 23 South African men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include difficulty passing urine, difficulty in starting or stopping the urinary stream, a frequent need to urinate, especially at night, and blood in the urine.  

Even in the presence of such alarming figures, scores of men are too embarrassed to go for regular prostate check-ups. The benefits of regular screening, however, far outweigh possible embarrassment and with early detection and treatment, prostate cancer can be cured.

Visit your doctor once a year after the age of 50 for a check-up. If you have a family history of prostate cancer, regular screenings after the age of 40 are recommended.

Prostate facts

Here are some interesting facts concerning prostate cancer and its treatment. Check your knowledge.

  • One in 10 000 men under the age of 40 develops prostate cancer, whereas one in eight men between the ages of 60 and 80 suffers from the disease.
  • For some reason not yet fully understood, the rate of prostate cancer among black men is higher than in other race groups. A possibility exists that higher levels of testosterone may be responsible.
  • Many men die with prostate cancer, but not from it.
  • Although it has not been proven conclusively, it is thought that a diet high in fat could lead to increased testosterone production.
  • Lack of exercise can lead to general ill-health and makes someone more susceptible to all sorts of diseases, prostate problems included.
  • A man with three first degree relatives with prostate cancer has a ten times increased risk of developing prostate cancer himself.
  • The prostate needs time and male hormones to develop cancer. Testosterone does not cause prostate cancer, but is essential for prostate cancer to develop.
  • Men whose mothers or sisters have developed breast cancer are at increased risk for prostate cancer.
  • Because prostate cancer generally takes so long to develop, many doctors opt for the so-called "watchful waiting" as a treatment option.
  • Besides castration at a young age, which is obviously not a viable option, there is no certain way of preventing prostate cancer.

Since its slow start in 2003, the Australian initiative, started by Luke Slattery, Travis Garone, Adam Garone and Justin Coghlan, has grown from a paltry 30 Mo Bros (male members) to a staggering 4 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas (women who support their blokes) by 2013.

By growing your "mo" this November, you and millions of like-minded Mo Bros around the globe will help raise money for prostate-cancer research and encourage more men to speak about a subject that’s still taboo in many manly circles, and to go for screening tests.

Read: More obese men die from prostate cancer

A Mo Bro, with help and support of his Mo Sista, starts Movember clean shaven and grows a moustache throughout the month, garnering support from friends and family in the form of donations.

What’s more, a Mo Bro is a walking billboard for the cause, as his new look opens the door for him to talk about cancers affecting men – making the moustache a symbol of the disease, much like the pink ribbon for breast cancer.

What you can do

The Cancer Association of South Africa encourages all men to start by getting to know their body and all its familiar flaws to become aware of any changes that could spell trouble. Consult your doctor without delay if you notice any of the symptoms which may indicate prostate cancer:

  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Difficulty starting and stopping the urinary stream
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or burning when passing urine
  • Pain in the lower back, upper thighs or pelvic area
Staging and grading of prostate cancer

If you’re aged 15 to 40 you should also examine your testicles each month to feel for any lumps or other changes.

If you’re over 50, you should have a prostate exam once a year, plus a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test – a simple screening test that checks for the presence of a protein that may indicate prostate cancer.

Read More:

Early prostate cancer is curable
Movember: time to grow a mo!
Test to identify slow-growing prostate cancer


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