THE number of prostate cancer cases in the Philippines continues to increase, leading health experts to believe that this silent killer will claim one life every hour.
Prostate cancer is now the third leading cause of death among Filipino men. The National Kidney and Transplant Institute said 19.3 out of every 100,000 Filipino men are afflicted with the disease.
Records from the Department of Health (DOH) in 2010 showed that around six million men over the age of 50 were at risk of developing prostate cancer. The DOH said that half of the men aged 50 and above are likely to develop urinary and prostate problems as they get older.
To create awareness and address the growing menace of this killer disease, Janssen Philippines and Healthway Medical Clinics partnered to encourage families to fight the disease.
“The risks grows with age but the key to preventing it is through early detection. Unfortunately, only a few adult males submit themselves for screening unless they already feel the symptoms,” said Dr. Jaime Songco, a urologist at the launch of the Fight for Your Man campaign of the two medical groups at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel.
“Fight for Your Man is our way of reaching out to families to encourage the men in their lives aged 40 up to have themselves screened for prostate cancer. We believe that we can address this public health issue by getting everyone involved specially the families who may be affected when a breadwinner gets sick,” said Dr. Josephine Tolentino, head of the campaign.
Sonia Roco, wife of former Senator Raul Roco, was present during the launch to express her support for the campaign. She cited the need for families to get involved in the fight against prostate cancer because battling prostate cancer is life changing not only for the afflicted but also for those he would eventually leave behind.
“Our role as wives and children is to encourage the men in our lives to take responsibility for their prostate health. If we are able to do this we stand a better fighting chance to prevent this disease from affecting our households,” she said.
The NKTI said most prostate cancer cases remain undiagnosed until they are already in the advanced stage. In addition, nine out of 10 adults are unaware that cancer of the prostate can develop slowly.
Prostate cancer can be asymptomatic during the early stage but when the patient starts seeing blood in his urine or experiences painful urination and lower back pain, that is the time they know the cancer has worsened, Dr. Songco added.
Regular screening will help a man detect prostate cancer at the early stages. Common tools used in diagnosing are urine tests and ultrasound that can show the size of prostate and the prostate specific antigen (PSA).
Dr. Songco said because of advances in medical science like multiple treatment options, the survival rate for prostate cancer patients has increased.
These options include radical prostatectomy or radiation therapy which has potential side effects including erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, or rectal bleeding; hormonal therapy; brachytherapy; cryotherapy and high-intensity focused ultrasound therapy.
When aggressive treatment is deferred, patients are carefully monitored for disease progression.
The prostate is a part of the male reproductive system about the size of a walnut located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. It produces a fluid that forms part of the semen. When the prostate is enlarged, it can cause the urethra to narrow and makes urinating difficult.
Aside from age, other risk factors for prostate cancer include race and genetics.
Prostate cancer is the leading form of cancer in the United States and affects mostly African-American men. The risks are lower for Asian men.
Carmie de Leon, Healthway’s vice president for sales and marketing, said through the campaign “we will be able to approach this public health emergency in a proactive way. Let’s fight for our men!”