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Movember-Prostate Cancer higher in Black Men

Movember, An annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men’s suicide

As a sister to one awesome older brother and a daughter to a great dad, this is the month were I am brave enough to sit them down and ask them about their ‘junk’, well to be less crude; Prostate.

My dad, a typical (very) African black man, who eats pap everyday (even on days when we cook pasta or rice), who up until I turned 15 used to switch-off the TV when a kissing scene would come on, is the same man I had to sit down and have a discussion about his prostate. Talk about awkward convo.

If you’re a black man, you’re twice as likely to die from Prostate cancer.

Prof Riana Bornman, Senior Research Professor at the University of Pretoria’s School of Health Systems and Public Health (SHSPH) and Prof Vanessa Hayes, a genomicist from the Garvan Medical Institute for Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, focused their research on prostate cancer in black Southern African men of Bantu and Khoisan descent, to better understand the possible links between prostate cancer and African ancestry.

This is what they found; Black men are at a higher risk of prostate cancer than their white counterparts because:

  • This protein, known as prostate-specific antigen (PSA) is elevated in their blood.
  • PSA was produced by both normal and malignant cells in the prostate gland and could signify prostate cancer risk.
  • Black Southern African men presented with higher PSA levels and histopathological tumour grade
  • Men from rural localities are most at risk
  • The most common risk factors for prostate cancer include African ancestry, increasing age (from 50s) and a family history of prostate cancer – on either the maternal or paternal side.

Previous studies have indicated that 61.8 in 100 000 men in Southern Africa would develop prostate cancer.

This is not the time to shy away from the yearly check-up, or from having that difficult, awkward conversation.

I never got the chance to actually talk to my dad about his prostate. I chickened out. He would’ve seen it as disrespectful. I told my mom to do it. Then I proceeded to leave pamphlets lying around EVERYWHERE. I left one on his Chair, his pillow, his dressing table, in the bathroom, next to his Gillete razor blade. Its safe to say he got the hint. I talked to my brother though, he even got a Powerpoint presentation, the end slide reading “Forward to DAD”. Yeah…he definitely got the hint.


~Sibongile ‘Sibo’ Tshabalala