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Olaleye: Early Detection, Prompt Treatment To Tackle Prostate Cancer




Dr. Femi Olaleye is an oncologist, who handles cancer treatment with passion. He is the Medical Director, Optimal Cancer Care Foundation. In this interview with GERALDINE AKUTU, he spoke on Prostate Cancer, its causes and how it can be managed.

Explain Prostate cancer, the signs and symptoms?

Prostate Cancer is cancer of the prostate gland that afflicts only men. Symptoms are usually related to a disturbance of the urinary flow in 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 per cent shall develop difficulty in passing urine and five per cent will develop passing blood with urine (haematuria).

Who is at risk of developing prostate cancer?

Although we don’t have any reliable statistics with regards to the incidence of prostate cancer in Nigeria, due to the fact that we do not have a properly-instituted cancer registry in the country, data from major referral centres across the country puts prostate cancer as top in the list – (10 per cent of all cancer cases) afflicting men. Risk factors of developing prostate cancer in an adult male population include smoking, a black male over 40 and positive family history.

How is it diagnosed?

It is commonly through patient’s symptoms and clinically through elevated Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels in the blood, prostate ultrasound scans and histology of the prostate biopsy. However, it does not directly cause impotence.

What are treatment and management options?

If the screening test has identified that the man is positive (high levels of PSA), then we have to determine if the levels have simply increased due to an age-related increase in size of the prostate gland.

We, therefore, need to arrange a prostate scan, whereby the size and shape and other features of the prostate gland are determined. Most of the time, a cancerous nodule is identified through the scan, and it is until then that the man is scheduled for a prostrate biopsy, whereby a small sample of tissue from the ‘suspicious’ part of the prostate is obtained. The sample shall then be sent for histology and the results usually confirm the presence or absence of the cancer. Positive PSA test report alone does not mean there is Prostate cancer. Once the cancer is confirmed and detected at this early stage, a specialist doctor (urologist) shall be invited to perform the necessary procedure and operation to remove the cancerous part of the prostate or the entire prostate as the case may be. It all depends on the stage of the cancer.

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.

The surgical approach of treatment 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).

What lifestyles changes can be made to avoid or manage the disease?

We cannot prevent the cancer, but we can prevent men from dying from the cancer through early detection and prompt treatment.

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