Prostate cancer: Prof Utomi, experts calls for action
A professor of political economy, Prof Pat Utomi, has said that prostate cancer is taking away Nigerian men in their prime age, saying there was need for men to show extra concern to their health.
Mr Utomi made this declaration on Wednesday at the 2023 Men on Blue prostate cancer webinar, organised by Project Pink Blue, Inclusive Cancer Care Research Equity for Black Men Consortium, and JNCI International.
The webinar which had leading cancer scientists, health system experts, and stakeholders was organized to commemorate the International Men’s Day.
The professor called on Nigerian men to see prostate health as an obligation, as well as to carry out annual medical check-ups of their body including prostate cancer, stressing that his father passed away of cancer at 52.
“At the onset of COVID-19, around 2020, my Prostate-Specific Antigen was found to be elevated and I was asked to see a urologist and later had a direct rectal examination.
“The results now showed positive for prostate cancer. A disease is a disease, what is the difference between malaria and cancer? I had 45 sessions of radiotherapy, hormone treatment and other medications. Today, my PSA has dropped to a normal level. My hormone treatment will go on till next year,” he stressed.
Mr Utomi said that there was a lot of ignorance about prostate cancer, wondering why enough has not been done to get men aware.
According to him, there are many men of his age who are having problems with their prostate but are hiding it and unfortunately dying.
He noted that treating cancer was not affordable in Nigeria, adding that there was need for public-private sector collaboration and investment.
He, however, said that many bottlenecks exist in setting up a cancer centre in Nigeria and that the Nigeria Nuclear Radiation Authority charges for a licence to import equipment, fees to register the premises, and more fees to commission the equipment.
He disclosed that N17.5 million was required to set up one cancer machine, in addition to customs duties, and many others, adding that the charges had now been passed on to the cancer patients.
Mr Utomi, former presidential candidate, however, said that there was a need for rethinking of cancer control and making treatment accessible to many Nigerians.
Executive Director of PPB and the convener of the webinar, Mr Runcie Chidebe, said, “Every day in Nigeria, we hear and see breast cancer survivors, but prostate cancer survivors are rarely seen or heard of.’’
According to him, based on the above fact, many Nigerians still assume that cancer is a ‘woman’s thing’ and that the challenges of men battling prostate cancer are not always discussed and rarely considered for intervention.
He said that the NGO initiative started in 2017 as a platform to create awareness of prostate cancer among Nigerian men and to advocate better policies for men.
The Chief Executive Officer, JNCI International and Vice President of the African Healthcare Federation, Clare Omatseye, noted that prostate cancer was now the leading cause of cancer deaths in Nigerian men.
“In 2020, 15, 306 Nigerian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and 8,517 deaths were recorded. The risk factors of prostate cancer are first, being a man, second, age, and third being black. Genetically, there is something about Black people that increases the prostate cancer risk and makes it more aggressive in black men,” he said
Professor of Biochemistry at Covenant University, Mr Solomon Rotimi, also identified other risk factors of prostate as smoking, obesity, stress and having multiple sexual partners.