It’s November, so it’s time for men to come to terms with cancer

Home » It’s November, so it’s time for men to come to terms with cancer

Every year in November, men grow out their moustaches in ever creative and sometimes not so fashionable ways to shine a light on one of the biggest men’s health issues, prostate and testicular cancer. But the moustache is nothing without the information needed for awareness. It starts by gaining a healthy dose of perspective.

According to the Men’s Foundation, one in every 23 men in South Africa will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime. Approximately five men die from prostate cancer daily. The National Cancer Registry reveals that one in every 1 578 South African men was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2019. These statistics indicate that cancer is a real problem for men in South Africa because statistically, more men are likely to get cancer and die from it than women.

With that in mind, Justine Lacy, Clinical Executive at Profmed provides a little more education. “Testicular cancer forms when cancer cells develop in the testicles. Prostrate cancer, on the other hand, forms in the male’s prostate gland, which produce seminal fluid. Prostate cancer most commonly occurs in men 60 and older, and testicular cancer usually occurs in men between 15 and 45 years old.”

Although these two cancers are similar in affecting men’s reproductive organs, Lacy says they are pretty different. “These two cancers require different treatments, spread at different paces and with varying levels of aggressiveness,” Lacy adds.

Lacy says the below are signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to prostate cancer:

  • Frequent urination, particularly at night.
  • Weak flow of urine.
  • Trouble having an erection.
  • Pain during ejaculation.
  • Blood in urine or semen.

Lacy points out the below are signs and symptoms of testicular cancer:

  • A lump or swelling in the testicle.
  • An increase in the firmness of a testicle.
  • A noticeable difference between one testicle and the other.
  • A dull pain or sharp pain in your testicle or scrotum.
  • A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum.

According to her, the value of early detection cannot be underestimated. “It is paramount that men go for their  prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test annually. Unfortunately, a large portion of our male membership do not go for this screening until they’re 60 and older, but this is the best indicator of  early prostate cancer and should be done from the age of 40 years old. .”

Once detected, both prostate and testicular cancer can be expensive to treat. Lacy emphasises the importance of having medical aid in place that can adequately cover treatment should you ever be diagnosed with cancer.

“A medical scheme may help cover the expenses when treating cancer depending on the level of cover that you have taken, which is why it is a good idea to consider additional cover to ensure that you and your family are adequately covered, should you find that you are liable for co-payments,” Lacy adds.

Although every medical aid is different, Lacy advises all members of a medical scheme to familiarise themselves with the oncology benefits available on their option. She advises any person belonging to a medical scheme to understand what benefits are available to them and do so timeously.

“If you or any one of your beneficiaries are diagnosed with cancer, the first thing you need to do is join your scheme’s cancer management programme and do it as soon as possible,” says Lacy. “This way you can understand the full extent of what you are entitled to including prescribed minimum benefits, which are legislated in terms of the diagnosis and treatment covered.

Cancer is a life-threatening disease, but it can be successfully treated if detected early, advises Lacy. “Start taking care of your health and test regularly at your local clinic or doctors’ rooms. No matter who you are, where you’re from, or how healthy you feel, cancer can strike at any time,” Lacy concludes.