Movember: how a simple blood test for cancer can save your life

Cancer survivor urges men to get screened as prostate cancer can be asymptomatic

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, November 10, 2020.   Prostate cancer survivor, Carl Pittman, takes a break from work at the William Hare steel fabrication yard at Mussafah.
Victor Besa/The National
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Reprter:  Nick Webster

Men’s health is the focus of a special campaign throughout November to encourage men to talk about health problems.

It was started in Melbourne, Australia 17 years ago when two friends, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, aimed to resurrect the much maligned moustache.

Movember, as it became known, evolved into a public health campaign for men to talk about prostate cancer and other health issues.

Prostate cancer is an under-reported area of men’s health but can be easily detected.

“Prostate cancer makes up about five per cent of cancer cases in the UAE, compared with about 15 per cent elsewhere in North America and Europe,” said Dr Manaf Al Hashimi, urology consultant at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

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If an uncle or brother has had the disease the man is more at risk and should be screened

“A lot depends on family history, if an uncle or brother has had the disease the man is more at risk and should be screened.

Screening is usually recommended for anyone over 50, but with a family history of prostate cancer, it should be done at age 40.

The test is a clinical exam and blood test that looks for prostate specific antigens (PSA). A reading higher than three for PSA could warrant further exploration.

“There is nothing embarrassing about the test. Sometimes we may do an ultrasound test to check the size of the prostate,” said Dr Al Hashimi.

Men are notoriously bad at visiting their doctor, even for a routine check-up, he said.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men globally. More than 1.3 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. According to World Health Organisation figures from 2018, 12 per cent of all male cancers in the UAE are prostate, 2.4 per cent are fatal cases.

Prostate cancer can present without symptoms, making a blood test vital for early detection.

Treatment is offered through radiation and hormone therapy, or surgeons may decide to remove the prostate.

Dr Waleed Hassen, the department chairman of urology at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, said data collected at the hospital shows prostate cancer is likely to be as common in the UAE as anywhere else.

ABU DHABI , UNITED ARAB EMIRATES ,  November 21 , 2018 :- Kris Fade , RJ Virgin Radio Dubai doing a Movember shave to raise awareness of men's health issues held at Burjeel Day Surgery Center on Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. ( Pawan Singh / The National )  For News. Story by Adam Workman

“It is the most common cancer in men and in most parts of the world it is the leading cause of solid tumour death,” he said.

“There is a misconception prostate cancer is low in this region - that is one of the challenges as to why people do not get screened as they should.

“One reason is the Middle East has a younger demographic than elsewhere and there is a low number of Emirati men over the age of 50, maybe les