A study has revealed that most men in Nigeria do not have knowledge of prostate cancer and have not been screened of the disease.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men but screening for the disease is not yet a common practice in the country.
The true burden of the disease is not known, but the study shows that one in four Nigerian men faces the risk of developing prostate cancer.
The study was carried out by Project PinkBlue in collaboration with ACT Foundation.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Runcie Chidebe, lamented that most men in Nigeria die from prostate cancer because of the low awareness about the disease.
He said this can be averted if the government makes prostate screening mandatory for every man above 40.
Mr Chidebe said the research was carried out in Lagos, Enugu and Abuja.
He said research tagged “Men on Blue” is a health intervention focused on closing the gaps of awareness, education, research and screenings for prostate cancer in rural communities in Nigeria.
The research had 3,000 men for the study.
“In Nigeria, there is no organised screening or a national screening programme. What is currently available is sporadic screenings, driven by non-profit and non-governmental organisations hosting medical missions in diverse communities,” Mr Chidebe said.
“Many people do not have knowledge about prostate cancer. Knowing family health history is extremely important in prostate cancer prevention and early detection of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer seems to runs in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor,” he said
About 82.1 per cent of Nigerian men who participated in the study said they had never been screened for prostate cancer and most of them are 40 years and above.
Only 13.8 per cent reported having been screened for prostate cancer.
The low screening level of screening explains the late detection of prostate cancer in Nigeria and the increasing cancer death.
An urologist, Ajibola Hafees, said the burden of prostate cancer is high in Nigeria because many people present their ailment to the hospital late.
He said this can be averted if more people have the awareness of the disease and the screening test that can help with early detection.
Mr Hafees recommended a regular Prostate Specific Antigen test can for men.
He said the cost of screen is a bit high, but it is not as high as the cost of diagnosis and treatments.
“Having a PSA test cost about N6, 000 to N10, 000 or more, depending on where the test is being done. This is by far cheaper than the cost of treating prostate cancer.
“The cost of treating prostate cancer is low relatively or comparatively to breast cancer. About 1.3 million to 3.3 million treat prostate cancer yearly in Nigeria,” he said.
Giving a breakdown of the treatment cost, Mr Hafees said a diagnosis for prostate cancer could cost N147,000 to N152, 000, surgery could cost between N350, 000 and N950, 000; while 25 to 30 sessions of chemotherapy could cost N150, 000 to N360, 000.
“How many Nigerian men can pay out this kind of money from their pocket to get treated? Many of these indigent men would just decide to stay back home and die. With the poor health insurance, it has become more financially stressful to cope with the financial burden of cancer in Nigeria.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men. The prostate is a walnut size gland that is part of the male reproductive system. It is located below the unitary bladder and in front of the rectum.
Prostate cancer has the potential to grow and spread quickly, but for most men it is a relatively slow growing disease. Prostate cancer is 100 per cent treatable if detected early, unfortunately, it has no symptom.
According to researches, a black man is 70 per cent more likely to develop prostate cancer than a while man and is nearly 2.3 times more likely to die from the disease.
As men increase in age, the risk of developing prostate cancer increases. It is also hereditary. If a relative has a history of prostate cancer then there is twice likelihood to develop the disease.
This is why it is advisable for men age 40 and above to begin early screening for the detection of the disease. Screening for the disease may include Prostate Specific Antigen, PSA and other tests.