Awareness of men’s health conditions and the need for regular check-ups has improved in the region, but there is still a long way to go. Even now, many men sweep their health concerns under the rug. However, simple measures and tests can have a big impact and save lives, say specialists at Clemenceau Medical Center Hospital in Dubai (CMC Hospital Dubai).
“I think men, especially in the Middle East and the Arab world, tend to deny their symptoms; they are reluctant to seek medical attention or perform basic routine medical check-ups,” says Dr Rabii Madi, urological oncologist at CMC Hospital Dubai. “Within my specialty, I always encourage men to speak up if they notice something wrong, say, with urination or in their sex life, because even a minor symptom could be a sign of serious underlying pathology. Don’t try to suppress or ignore your symptoms.”
Better yet: Don’t wait until you feel symptoms to take care of your health. One of the most pressing concerns for men, of course, is prostate cancer, which will affect one in nine men in their lifetime and is the second most common cancer diagnosed in men in the UAE after colon cancer. Screening is as simple as a blood test (PSA) for all men over 50 (over 40 for those with a family history), but in countless cases it is not performed.
“Prostate cancer screening can increase the chances of detecting the disease before it causes symptoms and before it has a chance to spread,” explains Dr Deborah Mukherji, consultant medical oncology at CMC Hospital Dubai. “Unfortunately, in the absence of detection and awareness in the region, we often diagnose cases when it has spread to other areas of the body and is causing pain.”
Testicular cancer is less prevalent, but affects young men in the prime of life. What it has in common with prostate cancer is that detecting it early makes a difference and all it takes is a simple test, in this case a self-exam. “Testicular cancer is something we need to educate younger men about,” says Dr. Madi. “Every man between 20 and 40 years old should do a self-examination of his testicles from time to time, to check for any hardness or lump that could be an early sign of testicular cancer.”
Dr. Mukherji explains that it is among the most curable types of cancer. “If diagnosed at an early stage, treatment is less intensive and it may be possible to cure with surgery alone, avoiding the need for chemotherapy.”
While it is rare for testicular cancer to be caused by an inherited genetic condition, prostate cancer is associated with mutations in the same genes that increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women (BRCA 1 and 2). Specialists at CMC Hospital Dubai perform advanced diagnostic genetic testing on blood samples and tumor tissues from prostate cancer patients to detect these and other mutations.
If the cancer has progressed to the point of requiring surgery, the latest in robotic surgery can ensure that treatment involves the smallest incisions, absolute precision and the fastest recovery times possible.
“Here at CMC we use state-of-the-art robotic surgery systems, the da Vinci Xi, for the surgical removal of prostate cancer (robotic radical prostatectomy), which is the most effective way to treat localized prostate cancer,” says Dr. Madi, who is also the Director of Robotic Surgery at CMC Hospital Dubai and a pioneer in this field with more than 2,300 robotic surgeries to his credit.
But the first and most important step is prevention, doctors agree, simply by leading a healthy lifestyle and having regular exams and check-ups. “Up to 40 percent of cancers can be prevented by not smoking, staying active and maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding alcohol,” says Dr. Mukherji. “For cancers that cannot be prevented, screening and early detection can increase the chances of getting a cancer at an earlier, more curable stage.”
This November, that is perhaps the most important message to send to men and the families who love them. “Dubai is an international city and I am seeing that my patients are more aware, whether they are Emiratis or from Asian or European countries, which is good,” says Dr Madi. “But to spouses and significant others I would say: If your man is hesitant or afraid, encourage him and encourage him to get regular testing. Because screening and early detection save lives.”
This content comes from Reach by Gulf News, which is GN Media’s branded content team.