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We need to improve men’s health – medical doctor

Published:Wednesday | June 17, 2020 | 12:16 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer

IN THE past, a lack of information has caused a number of issues that would have been otherwise preventable. However, with man’s curiosity and the advent of technology and the Internet, one could say that it is fear that is the driving force of keeping people away from their doctors and closer to the ailments that often lead to death.

This trait is often seen in men who usually wait until the pain is unbearable for them to make the decision to visit a doctor, but with diseases such as prostate cancer, which is gender-specific, this habit has to stop.

According to Dr Demion Hanson, a general practitioner for the last 10 years operating in Christiana, Manchester, and surrounding areas, it is a lack of information that keeps men away, as they are unaware that there is more than one way to complete prostate screenings.

June is observed as Men’s Health Month.

“They are unaware that prostate checks are not only done through a digital rectal examination, but they can also start off by doing a blood test to check their prostate specific antigen, and based on the levels, an ultrasound can be done to check the prostate; that way, they are more comfortable,” shared Hanson

According to the Ministry of Health and other medical experts, the recommended age to start regular prostate checks is 40; however, if there is a history of prostate cancer in the family, men may need to start the screening earlier.

“If they have a first-degree relative (father or brother) who was diagnosed with prostate cancer, for example, at age 45, we would want them to start doing prostate checks from as early as 10 years to the date of when their relative was diagnosed,” explained Hanson. “This 10-year head start gives more time for screening and follow-up with the intent of early detection.”

Dr Hanson explained that there are exceptions to the rule as men under the age of 40 can have prostate cancer and, therefore, should visit their doctor on a regular basis, especially if there is a family history of the disease, along with underlying issues that compromise the immune system.

He also said based on research and trends, colon cancer mainly affects men. He explained that recent studies have shown a lack of fibre in the diet, and men’s lack of interest in knowing their medical status often causes early symptoms to go unnoticed, and these are reasons for the prevalence of colon cancer among men.

Dr Hanson further explained that a change of mindset, diet and lifestyle change could go a far way in having healthy men in our society.

“I think we will be on the right path if we come out of this old mindset that men are not prone to certain sickness, or the macho behaviour of not wanting to know results, and the tendency to turn to herbal medicines,” said Hanson. “I think we should be more on the side of giving and getting information in regard to improving men’s health.”

The medical doctor said lifestyle choices, including the increased consumption of alcohol and smoking, put us at a higher risk of lifestyle diseases, and implores everyone to do family history checks so that they can be proactive in combating and hopefully avoiding these issues.