80% prostate cancer patients report late for treatment
More than 80 per cent of prostate cancer patients succumb to death because they report to hospitals with advanced stages of the disease and low blood levels, research findings at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital have established.
“These patients had the worst outcome, with 73 per cent dying less than two years after diagnosis,” the findings stated.
The study, led by the Head of Surgery at the hospital, Prof. James Edward Mensah showed that 23 per cent of patients died between two and five years after diagnosis, while a quarter of the cohort survived for more than five years after diagnosis.
“The five-year survival rate of patients who presented with metastatic disease was 21.2 per cent.
Over 80 per cent were treated with bilateral total orchidectomy, with less than 10 per cent receiving treatment intensification with the newer generation antiandrogens or chemotherapy,” the report further stated.
The study, which has been published in the Journal of West African College of Surgeons, was conducted between 2013 and 2022.
Prof. Mensah, who is also the President of Ghana Association of Urological Surgeons (GAUS), expressed concern about the late presentation of prostate cancer cases at health facilities.
“Many sought medical attentions only when they experienced urinary problems or back pain from spread of the cancer to the bone and spinal cord.
Some even wasted time and resources seeking care at herbal clinics where they were mismanaged for enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia) before being referred when symptoms worsened,” he said.
Prof. Mensah, who was speaking in an interview as part of the commemoration of the prostate cancer awareness month, September, explained that early detection and timely intervention were crucial to improving outcomes.
He, therefore, urged the public to seek medical attention promptly, and to be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with prostate cancer.
“While screening and early detection remain a subject of debate, clear evidence exists that when done appropriately with trained medical personnel and patient education, lethal prostate cancer can be identified early, enabling curative treatment,” he stated.
Prof. Mensah said the GAUS was pleased with the commitment of the government to deal with the problem by its efforts to include prostate cancer in the benefit package of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) following the precedence set for breast cancer.
“GAUS welcomes this initiative and pledges its full support in ensuring that every investment made in this regard is utilised efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all Ghanaians.
“With the inclusion of prostate cancer in the benefit package, we hope that more patients will be diagnosed at an early stage, leading to better outcomes,” he stated.
Prof. Mensah said currently, all treatment modalities for localised prostate cancer, including watchful waiting, active surveillance, open radical prostatectomy, brachytherapy, and external beam radiotherapy, were available in the country.
He said the concern of the GAUS was in training more specialised medical personnel and ensuring that the necessary equipment for those procedures were available in all regions of the country.
He affirmed the commitment of GAUS to decrease the suffering and deaths associated with prostate cancer.
“We firmly believe that with support from the government, the public and other stakeholders, the impact of this disease can be significantly curtailed,” he stated.