Prostate cancer has been reported as being the most common cancer among men, with the National Cancer Registry saying that one in 15 South African men is at risk of developing it.
The KwaZulu-Natal health department has encouraged society to move away from myths such as that cancer is caused by witchcraft and rather initiate and deepen the conversation cancer to prevent death.
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KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane urged men to get screened and tested for prostate cancer, which can be fatal when diagnosed late.
"As we begin the year, we are encouraging all men aged 50 and above who have a history of prostate cancer in the family to start on a clean slate by getting screened and tested. Prostate cancer need not be a killer disease, but it often is because people don't go and get tested early enough."
Simelane said if there is a family history of prostate cancer, annual screening is advisable from the age of 45.
"Men who suspect they may have prostate cancer need to have a blood test done, as well as a rectal examination if necessary. The blood test measures the level of a protein called prostate-specific antigen in the blood. If the test results show an increased level the prostate-specific antigen, one will be referred for further investigation," she said.
Although the actual cause of prostate cancer is not known, age is a major risk factor, with men aged 50 and above being at greater risk.
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"More than 80% of all prostate cancers were diagnosed in men over the age of 65. There is also a relationship between a diet high in animal fat and protein, and prostate cancer,” she said.
Symptoms include trouble urinating or decreased force of stream, blood in the urine or semen, bone pain, unexpected weight loss and sometimes inexplicable fevers.
"The early detection of prostate cancer greatly improves the success of treatment. It is every individual's responsibility to look after their own health and it is also important to seek advice from a health professional," she said.