Compared to the staggering numbers of COVID-19 cases over the past year, over 8,000 newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients in 2020 hardly made any statistical buzz. However, it is possible that the actual number is over 8,000 but patients exhibiting symptoms have not sought professional help and were not counted. According to medical experts, more proactive disease awareness and education is key.
As part of its advocacy to make Filipinos more aware of their healthcare needs, Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. continually and strongly supports activities that would better spread the right information about prostate cancer across the country. Activities such as the recent Usapang Prostate Cancer lay forum and Libreng Patingin teleconsultations spearheaded by the Philippine Urological Association, in partnership with the Department of Health, Philippine Society of Uro-Oncologists, and Cancer Warriors Foundation, Inc. Both events were held on Prostate Cancer Awareness Month last September.
Led by the country’s top urologists, the Usapang Prostate Cancer webinar discussed how prostate cancer can be tricky to detect, as its more worrying symptoms only present themselves when it is already in its late stages, which makes it, ultimately, harder to treat. This characteristic is also why prostate cancer is responsible for the ninth highest number of cancer-related fatalities in the country, as reported by GLOBOCAN.
“Prostate cancer tends to affect older men, particularly those 50 years old and above,” shared Dr. Erwin Benedicto, head of Medical Affairs of Johnson & Johnson’s (Philippines), Inc. “There are cases of younger males getting diagnosed with prostate cancer, but it is extremely rare. Another problem with prostate cancer is that its symptoms are largely invisible, easily mistaken by many as signs of aging.”
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation, there are usually no early warning signs for prostate cancer. However, in rare cases, these warning signs can include a need to urinate frequently and sometimes urgently, difficulty starting or holding back urination, weak or interrupted flow of urine, painful or burning urination, difficulty having an erection or painful ejaculation, and pressure or pain in the rectum.
It is also important to remember that urinary symptoms do not necessarily mean a person has cancer. Prostatitis and Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy, described as enlargement of the prostate, are diseases that can cause similar symptoms and are just as common as prostate cancer.
“The level of knowledge and awareness about prostate cancer in the Philippines is low despite the statistics,” said Raghu Krishnan, president of Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc. “As a company in the business of caring, we have made it our mission to make information about the disease, including treatments and support, available to every Filipino family. Information alone can save many lives.”
“While there is no known cure yet for prostate cancer, Johnson & Johnson Philippines is making great strides in fighting the disease. Our team of medical experts are continuously finding new ways to improve overall survival rate, prevent progression, and enhance the quality of life of patients. We are hopeful that one day, we can cure prostate cancer completely.”