Many notable Nigerians, including Alhaji Abdul-Azeez Arisekola-Alao, Mr May Nzeribe, Mr Alexander Uruemu Ibru and Mr John Wash Pan died of different types of cancers.
According to the Medical Director of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Dr Femi Olaleye, prostate cancer forms in the tissues of the prostate.
“Prostate cancer is the most common malignancy in Nigerian men. In most men with prostate cancer, the disease grows very slowly. The majority of men with low-grade, early prostate cancer (which means that cancer cells have been found only in the prostate gland) live a long time after their diagnosis. Even without treatment, many of these men will not die of the prostate cancer, but rather will live with it until they eventually die of some other, unrelated cause.”
Nigeria does not have reliable statistics on prostate cancer due to the absence of a properly-instituted cancer registry. However, data from major referral centres across the country put prostate cancer as the number one cancer afflicting men.
Citing a study to justify this, Olaleye said in 1997, a team of urologists, comprising Stephen Odunayo Ikuerowo; Olufunmilade Omisanjo, Muftau Bioku, Victor Mordi, Julius Esho, all of the Department of Surgery, Division of Urology, Lagos State University College of Medicine, Ikeja, Lagos, and Michael Ajala of State Pathology Services, General Hospital, Lagos, carried out a study in a community-based prostate cancer awareness programme in 13 local government areas of Lagos.
The study revealed that of the 341 men who underwent biopsy, histopathological examination showed that benign nodular hyperplasia (BPH) was found in 242 (71.0 percent), BPH with inflammation in 40 (11.7 percent), and normal prostate in 16 (4.7 percent) men. Histopathological diagnosis of prostate cancer was made in 43 (12.6 percent) men. Therefore, the estimated prevalence rate of prostate cancer in the entire cohort of men was 1.046 percent or 1, 046 per 100,000 men.
“All of them had adenocarcinoma (a type of cancer) of the prostate. This study has demonstrated that there is a high prevalence of prostate cancer in the community in Lagos, much higher than the previously known. The majority of the men already have advanced and high grade disease and have not even sought for medical treatment.”
The causes of prostate cancer are largely unknown. It is clear that the chances of developing prostate cancer increase in men over 40. Finding prostate cancer at its early stages can save lives. Men between 50 and 70 with no family history of prostate cancer; men between 40 and 70 with a family history of prostate cancer and African-American men between 40 and 70 all need to go for screening.
“Recent World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics showed that in Nigeria within a period of four years, there is increase in death rate among men as a result of prostate cancer. WHO noted that 26 men die daily. This indicates that a rapid response is needed for the prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of Prostate cancer. Awareness about prostate cancer is poor. Majority of our patients therefore usually present in the hospital with the disease in the advanced stage.”
According to him, prostate cancer, just like cervical cancer, need not kill the sufferer.
“Lack of awareness, inadequate infrastructure and manpower for cancer prevention and treatment are issues the country has to deal with before it can successfully address prostate cancer for positive results. To improve prostate cancer, survivorship, it is important for every man to know his risk of prostate cancer as well as the signs and symptoms. We cannot prevent the cancer but we can prevent men from dying from the cancer through early detection and prompt treatment. A good example is the recent announcement that Prof Wole Soyinka is a survivor and this is simply due to the fact that the disease was detected very early through screening, rather than waiting for symptoms to develop.”
“Just as late Nelson Mandela was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer at the age of 83. He underwent seven weeks of out-patient radiotherapy and made a full recovery. He lived until the age of 95, and was cancer-free till he died.”
According to a consultant in Urology, at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi Araba, Dr Habeeb Tijani, is important that men, especially of African origin, know their Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level once they hit 40 years: “PSA is a protein produced exclusively by prostate cells. There is a simple blood test to measure your PSA level and this may help to detect early prostate cancer.
“The chance of having prostate cancer goes up as your PSA level increases. Small amount can also be found in the blood of healthy men as doctors have not yet determined what a ‘normal’ level is. If you do not know your PSA level or prefer not to have a test at this time we can assess your risk by using Risk Calculator 1 which takes into account your age, family history and any urinary symptoms. Or we can use Risk Calculator 2 to assess your risk if you know your PSA level. However, if your PSA is above three or four ng/ml your doctor may want to do a biopsy. This would involve taking one or more samples from your prostate gland to give them a clearer picture.”
“We know Cancer describes a set of diseases in which normal cells in the body, through a series of genetic changes, become abnormal and lose the ability to control their growth. As cancers, also known as “malignancies”, grow, they invade the tissues around them (local invasion). They may also spread to other locations in the body via the blood vessels or lymphatic channels where they may implant and grow (metastases). That is why one has to screen and if any detection is made, such can be treated, before it spreads.”
Dr Olaleye added that no man should wait to observe the symptoms, but go for screening for proper diagnosis.
“Prostate cancer is commonly diagnosed through analysing patient’s symptoms and clinically, through elevated PSA levels in the blood, prostate scans histology of the prostate biopsy. Symptoms are usually related to a disturbance of the urinary flow of the man. However a lot of men with urinary symptoms do not necessarily have prostate cancer. It is important to note that majority of men with prostate cancer may not even have symptoms. Only 15 percent shall develop difficulty in passing urine and five percent will develop passing blood with urine (haematuria).”
“Staging of the disease is done to determine the extent of the cancer and its spread outside the prostate gland. This is done to determine the appropriate treatment plan for the patient and to determine extent of long-term care needed. We do not have robust published figures for survival rates in Nigeria but through observation and anecdotal reports, one can say that due to the fact that we do not screen our men, most present with the disease at late stage and the survival rates are generally poor with late stage cancers.”
He said Prostate cancer is treated through the surgical approach which is either a partial prostatectomy or total prostatectomy depending on the size and location of the cancer.
“This is followed by the use of drugs that are designed to kill cancerous cells in the body (Chemotherapy). Treatment for prostate cancer depends on the stage of the disease and the grade of the tumor (how fast the cells are likely to grow or spread to other organs). Other important factors in planning treatment are the man’s age and general health and his feelings about the treatments and their possible side effects. The causes of prostate cancer are not yet understood. Researchers are looking at factors that may increase the risk of this disease. The more they can learn about these risk factors, the better the chance of finding ways to prevent and treat prostate cancer,” he said.
Source: The Nation.
READ PART 2 OF HOW TO AVOID PROSTATE CANCER HERE: PART 2
DOWNLOAD FREE INFORMATION FOR BLACKMEN HERE: information-for-blackmen