"The beginning of the year is a good time for men aged over 50 to undergo prostate cancer screening and testing" says KZN Health MEC

Prostate Cancer risk factors:

  • Being male, aged 50 and above
  • Family history of cancer
  • Too much "shisanyama / red meat
  • Black men at higher risk

31 January 2023

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Ms Nomagugu Simelane says the beginning of the year is an opportune time for men aged 50 and above to get screened and tested for prostate cancer, which can be deadly when diagnosed too late.

Prostate cancer is said to be the most common male cancer globally and locally and, according to the 2019 National Cancer Registry, 1 in 15 South African men is at risk of suffering from prostate cancer.

Furthermore, local and international research shows that due to genetic factors and socio-economic status, the risk of prostate cancer is higher among Black men.

Prostate cancer tends to run in families, making it vital for men to know their family cancer history, especially where there is prostate or breast cancer in a first degree family relative, according to the Cancer Association of South Africa.

Speaking on her Department's weekly KZN Health Chat multimedia programme recently, MEC Simelane encouraged society to move away from myths such as that cancer is caused by "witchcraft," but rather initiate and deepen the conversation about cancer in order to prevent death that could be avoided.

"As we begin the year, we are encouraging all men aged 50 and above, and those aged 45 and above who have a history of prostate cancer in the family, to start on a clean slate by getting screened and tested for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer need not be a killer disease; but it often is, because people don't go and get tested early enough... They tend to discover that they have it when it's simply too late," said MEC Simelane.

What every male should know:

The prostate gland is a small organ that is found only in men. The gland is located below the urinary bladder, and the urethra runs through it. The normal function of the prostate gland is to make part of the seminal fluid or semen that is released during ejaculation. The semen also carries and nourishes the sperm. The prostate can be affected by cancerous or non-cancerous enlargement or infection.

Cancer of the prostate develops in the prostate gland and the cancer cells may eventually spread outside the gland to other parts of the body. Prostate cancer generally grows slowly.

Risk Factors:

Although the actual cause of prostate cancer is not known, the following risk factors have been identified:

  • Age is the major risk factor: Men over 50 years are at risk. More than 80% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65 years.
  • Family history / Genetic factors: If a father or brother had prostate cancer, there is an increased risk of getting the disease.
  • Unhealthy Diet: There is a relationship between a diet high in animal fat and protein (especially red meat), and prostate cancer.

Reducing the risk of Prostate Cancer:

The following guidelines should be observed:

  • Annual screening from the age of 50 years.
  • If there is family history of prostate cancer, annual screening is advisable from the age of 45 years.
  • Diet low in animal fat and protein is advisable.
  • Living a healthy lifestyle - physical activity.

Men who suspect they may have prostate cancer will have a blood test done, as well as rectal examination if necessary.

The blood test would measure the level of a protein called Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) in the blood. If the blood test results show an increased level of PSA, you will be referred for further investigation.

Any condition affecting the prostate can cause the PSA level to rise. A rise in PSA does not mean that a person has cancer.

A digital rectal examination may be conducted to confirm the presence or absence of prostate cancer.

Common symptoms of prostate cancer may include:

  • Trouble urinating or decreased force of stream,
  • Blood in the urine or semen,
  • Bone pain,
  • Unexpected weight loss, and
  • Inexplicable fevers.

The importance of early detection:

The early detection of prostate cancer greatly improves the success of treatment. It is every individual's responsibility to look after their own health. It is important to seek advice from a health professional, if any of the above symptoms are present.

Treatment of prostate cancer:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Chemotherapy

Any or all of the above can be used at different times, depending on the stage of disease and the need for treatment. However, this will be determined by the health care professional.


Ongoing pain without explanation requires medical attention.

Should you have any concerns about your health, please talk to a health professional at your nearest clinic.

Issued by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health

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This page last edited on 11 July, 2023

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