By DR GREGGORY PINTO
“Movember” is here again. Every year around the world, the month of November is taken as opportunity to focus on the health awareness of men. Men around the globe are encouraged to not shave during November and grow a moustache as a sign of solidarity and unity in the effort to emphasise the importance of men’s health awareness.
The health issues of prostate cancer and testicular cancer as well as male mental health and suicide prevention are emphasised. It is important topic for Bahamian men, as one in seven suffer from diabetes or are pre-diabetic.
One in five Bahamian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime, and sadly hundreds of men die needlessly every year from prostate cancer that has a 99 percent cure rate if diagnosed at an early stage.
Hundreds more Bahamian men are diagnosed every year with advanced prostate cancer that is beyond the curative stage. Knowledge is key in the fight against needless prostate cancer deaths in our Bahamaland. Being of African ancestry is one of the greatest risk factors for prostate cancer. Men of African ancestry often develop a more aggressive form of prostate cancer that afflicts them six to seven years earlier than prostate cancer typically afflicts their other racial counterparts.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer that afflicts Bahamian men, but the wonderful news is that prostate cancer can have an excellent cure rate when diagnosed early and many treatment options are available, including non-surgical curative treatments such as external beam radiation therapy; brachytherapy, which involves placing low dose or high dose radioactive seeds into the prostate that kills only the prostate cancer cells, or high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) therapy.
The other prostate problem, benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) affects even larger numbers of Bahamian men, with urinary symptoms of a weak urinary stream, incomplete bladder emptying, frequent and urgent urination and even urinary incontinence/leak. BPH can be successfully managed with medications or minimally invasive procedures if necessary.
Erectile dysfunction affects every man at some point in their lives. Most Bahamian men are reluctant to seek a urologist’s consult for their erectile dysfunction. You can always rise again.
The cause of the erectile dysfunction must be addressed and not just taking medications to counteract the symptoms. The causes may be related to heart disease, undiagnosed or poorly controlled high blood pressure and/or diabetes, high cholesterol, low testosterone, among a multitude of varying causes that need to be investigated and treated.
Men are very reluctant to seek medical help for depression or psychiatric issues and unfortunately many Bahamian men live their lives in silent distress when confidential and highly effective professional mental health care is readily available.
Men represent eight out of every 10 suicides. Men die on average six years earlier than women and often from preventable illnesses.
Movember tries to emphasise the importance of healthcare for men so that men can live happier, healthier and longer lives.
We need to get men to eat healthier, get routine exercise and seek help from their doctors.
We need to change the culture of silence among Bahamian men, who far too often suffer for years with various health issues and never seek medical help. Confidential, compassionate and comprehensive healthcare is readily available.
Bahamian men, grow your moustache this November and let us all collectively improve the quality of the lives of men in this beautiful country.
• Dr Greggory Pinto is a Bahamian urologist who has trained in South Africa, Germany, France and India. He is a member of the European Association of Urologists. Dr Pinto can be reached at the Urology Care Bahamas at the Surgical Suite, Centreville Medical Centre, Collins Avenue and Sixth Terrace. Call 326 1929; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.urologycarebahamas.