Ninety-eight Percent Chance to Beat Prostate Cancer if Detected Early
5 February 2020 – Two organisations that save lives through the early detection of cancer are hoping for a huge turnout for the Daredevil Run next month.
The annual race where men pound the ground clad in purple Speedos has a serious side behind the frivolous speedo dress code. It raises hundreds of thousands of rands every year that allow CANSA and the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) to carry out screening tests, run awareness campaigns and help patients detect prostate cancer early.
The camaraderie among the dare-to-bare-it runners also gives men the balls to break the taboo and talk about prostate and testicular cancer. “The Daredevil Run is a lot of fun and it combines education with entertainment making it much easier to share the health message with them,” says Andrew Oberholzer, CEO of the PCF. “It’s a fantastic initiative because it creates a lot of awareness, which is important because men generally don’t talk about health issues. Once they start talking it creates an opportunity to explain the importance of age appropriate screening for prostate cancer to ensure early detection”.
Black men have a sky-high chance of up to one in four of developing prostate cancer and in white males the risk is one in eight. That’s why the Foundation recommends screening for prostate cancer from the age of 40 for black men and any man with a history of prostate or breast cancer in a first degree relative, and from the age of 45 for all other ethnic groups.
Last year the Daredevil Run, sponsored by Hollard Insurance, donated R503 000 to the PCF and CANSA from the entrance fees. That allowed it to highlight the need for screening, because there are no symptoms in the early stages.
There’s a 98% survival rate with early detection, but only a 30% chance once it has spread to other parts of the body. Yet South Africa has one of the world’s highest rates for prostate cancer spreading to other parts of the body because men don’t get screened. “Early detection saves lives, and the great thing is you can get a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test for men over 40 at the Daredevil Run for free,” says Oberholzer.
This year’s event will take place on March 13. Proceeds from the run are used for the MANVan, a mobile health clinic that reaches even the most rural and underserved areas of the country. The MANVan offers PSA tests and cancer health education without having to travel for hours to the nearest clinic, which may be less well-equipped anyway. Teaching men to do testicular self-examinations is also a big focus for the MANVan, with a risk rate of one in 250 for white men and one in 1 700 in black men. Yet it’s easily detected by simply checking for abnormal lumps.
Cara Noble, the National Relationship Manager for CANSA, says: “Men shouldn’t be dying of these cancers in 2020, but they ignore the signs in their bodies so there’s a huge problem with late diagnosis. If you think something is wrong then get it checked, because there is so much that can be done. We walk with patients throughout their journey and we can bring you out again on the other side.”
Noble says it’s a constant challenge for CANSA to find the funds to continue and expand its work, so the annual Daredevil Run is an important source of income. It’s also a crucial way to bring male cancers into the open and have life-saving conversations. “We’re very grateful for the Daredevil Run for the money it raises, and the event itself is great for getting guys talking. Guys love a dare and this is cheeky and fun and it raises this serious issue.”
Last year the event attracted 3 970 entrants, and Hollard is hoping that this time more than 5 000 men will pull on their Speedos and takkies to run cancer out of town. Fathers and their sons can join the run, high school boys have been at the forefront of this campaign over the past few years as testicular cancer can affect men from the age of 15 and upwards. Men over 18 are asked to donate a minimum of R100 to enter, plus R50 for the Speedos and R10 for a ticket.