Many men fear prostate cancer and avoid getting tested, but Dr Evelyn Moshokoa says a simple blood test is often all it takes to save lives…

Years of unchallenged misconceptions about prostate cancer and rectal examinations have ignited fear in South African men.

Another misconception is that prostate cancer is a death sentence. However, there is hope at every stage of prostate cancer. When caught early, prostate cancer is completely curable with a survival rate of over 90%.

As one of the few female urologists in South Africa, Dr Evelyn Moshokoa knows just how hard it can seem to talk to men about their health.  However, it often falls on women to remind the men in their lives to go for those all-important check-ups.

We had the opportunity to ask her a few questions about prostate cancer, on behalf of the men in our lives…

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When should men go for prostate screening?

Dr Moshokoa: We recommend that men get a prostate screening from 45 years old, but for black men and men with a strong family history of the condition, we recommend getting screened from 40 years-old.

What could prostate cancer symptoms should wives/life partners keep a look out for in their partners?

Dr Moshokoa: Prostate symptoms are usually urinary, sexual or due to distant disease.

Some symptoms of a urinary obstruction include a difficulty to pass urine, urinating often, a burning sensation when urinating, waking many times at night to pass urine, feeling as though one has to push to urinate, and taking a long time to pass urine.

Can men get screened at a GP or should they see a specialist?

Dr Moshokoa: Men may be seen by their GP or a specialist, or with whoever they are most comfortable, but a GP will refer a patient to a urologist when necessary.

What and where

Be honest, do you know what the prostate does and where it is?

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut, located between the bladder and the penis. A small tube called the urethra runs through the centre and lets urine and sperm flow through.

The function of the prostate is to produce a fluid that nourishes and protects the sperm. This fluid contains an enzyme, called prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which liquefies semen, allowing it to enter into the uterus with ease and swim freely.

The prostate continues to grow as men age

Unlike other organs in men’s bodies which grow to full size during puberty, the prostate continues to grow as men age. It is made up of five lobes either on the interior or exterior of the prostate.

As with any other cancer, prostate cancer is the overgrowth of cells beyond the body’s ability to control. Prostate cancer usually starts internally and can block the passage of urine and sperm. If not treated, prostate cancer can spread to other organs in the body.

Stages of prostate cancer

The stages of prostate cancer are determined by specific classifications and risk of prostate cancer ranges from low and intermediate to high. This is based on the stage, prostate size, biopsy results and PSA level, which can be ready from blood test results.

When prostate cancer is low risk, active surveillance is recommended every three to six months. High risk will include treatment ranging from prostatectomy, chemotherapy and radiation to injections, under deprivation and palliative therapy.

You are what you eat, drink and smoke

What is good for the heart, brain and lungs, is without a doubt also good for the prostate.

Encourage the men in your life to exercise frequently, eat healthily and reduce unhealthy lifestyle factors, such as smoking and an eating junk food.

Despite any preconceived notions, there is so much that can be done at every stage of prostate cancer. So, take heart and encourage the men in your life to book a life-saving prostate screening.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit //www.here4you.co.za

Related: What to eat to stave off prostate cancer

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.