World Cancer Day: SA men urged to spearhead cancer awareness

World Cancer Day: SA men urged to spearhead cancer awareness

Johannesburg - The Cancer Association of South Africa has urged local men to educate themselves about testicular and prostate cancer.

In a statement to coincide with World Cancer Day, head of service delivery at CANSA Gerda Strauss said the two forms of the disease were curable if detected early enough, but men were often too embarrassed to seek help, leading to unnecessary deaths.

Black men had the highest chance of contracting prostate cancer, with a high-risk rate of up to one in four or 25 percent, while the risk for white men was at 10 percent, Strauss said.

"Any man over 40 should get checked regularly," she said, noting that the disease could be detected easily by a simple Prostate Specific Antigen blood test. 

Testicular cancer affects white men more often than black men and can hit boys as young as 15.

The most common signs and symptoms include lumps, swelling and pain in the testicles and scrotum. In South Africa it is one of the most common cancers for men between the ages of 15 and 49.  

Strauss said although testicular cancer could easily be detected by checking testicles for abnormal lumps, too few men thought to make that a regular part of their bathroom routine.

World Cancer Day this year comes just a few weeks before the annual Daredevil Run in which thousands of men wearing just sneakers and purple Speedos will jog through Johannesburg to focus attention on these male-specific cancers.

Strauss said participants aged over 40 could opt for a free blood test for prostate cancer.

She said last year over 300 out of almost 4,000 runners had taken the test, with 12 referred for a follow up, possibly saving their lives.

Eighty percent of the proceeds from entrance fees for the run will go to CANSA for testing, counselling and educating men in mostly underprivileged communities, while 20 percent will go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation to support awareness programmes.

African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa