GlobalHealthAfrica

Worrying Disparities in Prostate Cancer and How Africa is Fighting Back

In Healthcare, Men's Health on December 17, 2013 at 5:04 am

In this post, Guest Blogger, Udo Obiechefu focuses on men’s health and disparities in prostate cancer. Enjoy!

This past November marked the yearly celebration of Men’s Health month across much of the world. Many promotional campaigns, in particular the very popular “Movember”, aimed to shine the spotlight on issues concerning the health of men across the world. One issue that receives much attention, and rightly so, is prostate cancer. According to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, African American men are both more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer and are more likely to die from prostate cancer than their white counter parts. According to the center, African-American men have the highest incidence rate of prostate cancer on the planet. The reasons for this heavy disparity are still mostly unknown.

Mandela

Mandela was diagnosed and treated for prostate cancer in 2001

Unfortunately it is believed that African men may catch up to their African-American peers. Limited population based data indicates that men in Sub-Saharan Africa exhibit a lower incidence rate of the disease. However due to lack of access to preventative care, this rate could possibly be grossly understated. A recent study found that prostate cancer has become the leading cancer in Nigerian men (Ogunbiyi & Shittu, 1999). Approximately 1,000 Ghanaian men develop prostate cancer each year and makes up more than 23% of cancer cases in men. Prostate cancer is also the most common cancer among black men in South Africa with the recently departed Nelson Mandela being one of those diagnosed. In Mandela’s case screening caught the growth very early at a microscopic level. It is this screening that many believe is the key factor in the discrepancy between black men and their peers. Prostate cancer can be effectively treated if caught early. However, due to low screening rates among Africans and   African-Americans the disease, in many scenarios, is not found until its later stages.

To combat this issue access to preventative care must be improved. Of course this is not an easy task and brings about an entirely different discussion, but efforts can be made. In 2008 a pilot study conducted by the Lagos State Government in Nigeria screened over 400 men, eight of which ultimately were diagnosed with prostate cancer. Recently in Ghana the Men’s Health Foundation in collaboration with the St. Johns General Hospital at Tantra Hills in Accra established a prostate cancer research laboratory to offer free screening services to men. Initiatives like these can save lives. Men’s health is an issue that must continue to be addressed. Africa as a continent and those of African descent across the globe must focus more efforts on screening and preventative care. The month of November offered a chance for exposure, but we have to invest more than 30 days a year when it comes to addressing issues in health that are taking lives every day.

References

Djan, T. (2013, October 14). Ghana: Prostate cancer – men’s killer disease. Retrieved from http://allafrica.com/stories/201310142598.html

Lisa W. Chu, Jamie Ritchey, Susan S. Devesa, Sabah M. Quraishi, Hongmei Zhang, and Ann W. Hsing, “Prostate Cancer Incidence Rates in Africa,” Prostate Cancer, vol. 2011, Article ID 947870, 6 pages, 2011. doi:10.1155/2011/947870

Major screening initiative starts up in Lagos, Nigeria. (2008, November 04). Retrieved from http://pcafrica.wordpress.com/2008/11/04/major-screening-initiative-starts-up-in-lagos-nigeria/

Ogunbiyi, O., & Shitiu, O. (1999). Increased incidence of prostate cancer in Nigerians. JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL MEDICAL ASSOCIATION,91(3), Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2608450/pdf/jnma00348-0051.pdf

Prostate cancer in African-american men. (2013, November 14). Retrieved from http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/patientcare/healthcare_services/prostate_health/prostate_cancer/prostate_cancer_african_americans/Pages/index.asp

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