The global battle against cancer is a formidable one, with diseases like cancer posing significant challenges to public health worldwide. In Nigeria, as in many other countries, cancer has become a pervasive issue, with prostate cancer emerging as a particularly concerning threat to men’s health. Despite being one of the leading causes of death globally, the awareness and understanding of prostate cancer in Nigeria remain alarmingly low. In this article, we delve into the current state of prostate cancer in Nigeria, its risk factors, symptoms, complications, and most importantly, the urgent need for increased awareness and accessible screening.
The Escalating Prostate Cancer Crisis in Nigeria:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cancer accounted for an estimated 9.6 million deaths globally in 2018, with prostate cancer ranking as the number one cancer killer among Nigerian men. Shockingly, within just four years, deaths from prostate cancer in Nigeria surged by almost 100%, claiming the lives of 26 men daily – a stark increase from 14 deaths per day. The lack of awareness about prostate cancer in the country is identified as a major contributor to this escalating crisis.
Understanding Prostate Cancer:
Prostate cancer is a disease that originates in the prostate gland, a small walnut-shaped organ responsible for producing seminal fluid. While some prostate cancers progress slowly and remain confined to the prostate, others are aggressive, spreading rapidly and posing a severe threat to health. The risk factors for prostate cancer are both non-modifiable, such as age and family history, and modifiable, including diet, obesity, smoking, workplace exposures, and sexual activity.
Symptoms and Complications:
Prostate cancer may initially show no signs or symptoms, making early detection challenging. However, as the disease advances, symptoms such as difficulty in passing urine, erectile dysfunction, weight loss, bloody urine, and bone pain may manifest. The spread of prostate cancer to other organs, known as metastasis, is a significant cause of death. Complications include urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction, impacting the quality of life for those affected.
Prevention and Screening:
Preventing prostate cancer involves adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing is a crucial screening method for early detection. The PSA test measures the level of a specific protein in the blood, aiding in the identification of prostate cancer at an early, more treatable stage.
The Urgent Need for Awareness and Action:
Despite the increasing prevalence of prostate cancer in Nigeria, awareness remains low, and inadequate infrastructure and manpower for cancer prevention and treatment further exacerbate the issue. Urologists emphasize the importance of understanding risk factors, recognizing symptoms, and advocating for accessible screenings. Lack of awareness, coupled with a shortage of resources, contributes to the high mortality rate associated with prostate cancer in the country.
The Role of Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC):
To address the urgent need for widespread screening, there is a call for the deployment of Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC) in Nigeria. These clinics on wheels would provide easily accessible screenings, follow-up care, and even surgical interventions. Equipped with state-of-the-art facilities for various cancer screenings, MCCs could play a pivotal role in addressing the rising burden of cancer in Nigeria, providing a holistic approach to health promotion at the grassroots level.
The rising incidence of prostate cancer in Nigeria demands immediate attention and concerted efforts to increase awareness, improve infrastructure, and make screenings accessible to all. Recognizing the risk factors, understanding the symptoms, and advocating for preventive measures are crucial steps toward mitigating the impact of prostate cancer on the health and well-being of Nigerian men. The introduction of Mobile Cancer Centres could be a game-changer, bringing essential screenings and healthcare services to the heart of communities and contributing to the fight against prostate cancer in Nigeria.