Many prostate cancer cases detected in late stage: urologist

Many prostate cancer cases detected in late stage: urologist

All men above 50 years of age and experiencing urinary problems should visit a doctor at their closest health centre or clinic to be evaluated whether they should be screened for prostate cancer, said a consultant urologist from Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital.

Although prostate cancer is not the most prevalent cancer affecting Bruneians - ranked 11th most common based on data recorded from 2007 to 2012 - many of the 20 to 30 cases reported annually are detected at a later stage, proving difficult to treat, especially when the cancer has metastasized or spread to other parts of the body.

"This year our (Urology) department, through RIPAS Hospital and Ministry of Health, launched our first national campaign to raise awareness for prostate cancer because we started to notice a trend that most of the referrals to us were patients already (suffering from cancer) at a later stage," said Dr Hjh Zuraini Hj Ibrahim.

The prostate, only found in men, is a small gland located below the bladder and in front of the rectum, surrounding part of the urethra. Its function is to help make semen, which carries sperm from the testicles when a male ejaculates.

"Most men as they age (especially beyond) will experience a condition called benign prostate enlargement (BPE), where the prostate gets larger.

"Based on existing research, there is no connection between BPE and prostate cancer, but the problem is that both BPE and cancer have some similar symptoms," she said.

These include frequent urination, difficulty in starting urination and increased urination at night. A more specific symptom to prostate cancer as well as other cancers of the bladder and kidney is blood in the urine.

"If the cancer is more advanced, some symptoms include bone pain, swelling of the lower limbs and fecal incontinence (involuntary excretion of faeces)," she said.

At the moment, mass screening cannot be justified in Brunei, because of the prevalence level and the cost and risks involving screening processes.

Age and hereditary factors are the main risk factors for prostate cancer, with Dr Hjh Zuraini informing that consensus among the medical community has yet to be reached on whether conditions such as obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndromes increase risk.

Nevertheless, she said adopting a healthy lifestyle - getting good nutrition and exercise - can reduce a person's risk for numerous conditions.

"The lack of an established connection between prostate cancer and obesity should not be used as a reason for the public not taking action in maintaining a healthy weight," she added.

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