Windhoek-In Namibia, Aawambo men are at high risk of developing prostate cancer, according to the Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN).
The chief executive officer of CAN, Rolf Hansen, told New Era on Friday there is a need for further research on why many Aawambo men develop prostate cancer, but added that genetics can play a role.
“We pick up similarities also with breast cancer,” Hansen said, adding that women of Owambo descent are more likely to develop breast cancer compared to other tribal groups.
Hansen said that Caucasian men in Namibia are also at high risk of developing prostate cancer.
“There is a strong prostate cancer prevalence among Caucasian men.”
He said that although genetics play a role in the chances of individuals developing prostate cancer, lifestyle is a contributing factor as well.
High alcohol consumption, smoking and eating too much red meat all increase the chances of someone getting prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the leading cancer among men in Namibia. And, according to Hansen, it is more prevalent in men who are between 45 years and 50 years. Men who are between the ages of 65 and 70 are also at risk of prostate cancer, said Hansen.
“Genetics and lifestyle play a big role but its heredity,” Hansen emphasised. Men who have lost a parent or sibling to cancer need to be on high alert for prostate and other cancers, he advised.
Screening for prostate cancer
Hansen said men generally do not go for cancer screening. “They still believe cancer is a woman’s disease.”
In addition, men have the perception that screening for prostate cancer can only be done through a rectal (anus) examination.
Hansen explained that men are uncomfortable with being examined that way, particular by a male doctor.
He explained that prostate cancer can often be diagnosed before symptoms start by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood.
Another way is a digital rectal examination in which a gloved, lubricated finger is inserted into the rectum to feel the prostate gland.
“We must talk and create awareness about prostate cancer,” said Hansen, who explained that CAN also screens men for prostate cancer after which referrals are made for further medical care. Symptoms of prostate cancer can include erectile dysfunction, he added.
“If a man feels like urinating but nothing comes out he needs to get tested because that is a sign of an enlarged prostate.”
Furthermore, Hansen said that young men between 14 to 30 years are more likely to develop testicular cancer. There are various factors for this, both biological and environmental.
“Sometimes it might be that a boy’s testicles might not have descended or are not hanging enough. Men who have nodes also come to the Cancer Association of Namibia for testicular examination. It is worth noting that not all nodes are cancerous,” said Hansen, adding that cancer of the testicles is also increasing.
“We must remember that a man is the head of the home. A man cannot protect the family if he doesn’t protect himself by going for early screening and treatment. Let’s join the fight and know your status,” advised Hansen.