Far too many Bahamian men are needlessly suffering and dying from prostate cancer, according to urologist Dr. Greggory Pinto, who noted that one in six men in The Bahamas will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime.
Though troubling, Pinto noted that prostate cancer when caught early is curable.
As September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Pinto is warning of the dangers of not screening for the disease.
“There are men who could’ve lived another 30 years on this Earth if they had picked up prostate cancer early,” Pinto said on Guardian Radio show “Morning Blend”with host Dwight Strachan.
“I’ve seen the burden on their family members. It’s enormous. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in this country. It is estimated that one in six men are going to get prostate cancer in his lifetime. It’s a curable disease if you pick it up early. You can pick it up early with simple, non-invasive measures such as blood tests, urine tests, imaging.
“For primary care surveillance, you don’t need an embarrassing digital rectal exam. All it’s causing is thousands of men never to seek prostate cancer surveillance and even if they do it once, they’re never going to do it again.”
He noted that there are several minimally evasive ways to treat and cure prostate cancer, with almost 100 percent success.
His advice to men: get an annual surveillance for prostate cancer and go for your annual physicals.
He said eating a balanced diet, along with regular exercise, is recommended.
Pinto said he has also been treating a lot of women who are diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“Because of the nature of the disease, cervical cancer, almost every woman who is diagnosed is advanced or has metastatic cervical cancer is going to get consulted by a urologist because of the obstruction that it causes to the kidney, and we’re going to have to try to intervene to provide some relief,” he said.
“In many cases, women who have cervical cancer may die of kidney failure.”
As he called for more education on the topic, Pinto said many women can avoid the harmful impact of the disease with a vaccine that is free to all Bahamian children.
“Ninety-four percent of cervical cancers can be prevented by getting the vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus). That’s for men and for women,” he said.
“There are too many 25 year olds with two children, with their whole lives ahead of them, who are dying a horrible death, painful death, a protracted death of cervical cancer.
“If they had the HPV vaccine when they were 11, or 12, or 13, they wouldn’t have had to go down that road.
“There are too many men that are coming to the hospital with advanced penile cancer and, yes, you can get cancer of your male member,” he continued, adding that, in some cases, men have to get their penis amputated because of the fungating masses and rancid smell that can develop as a result of penile cancer.
“We have to do an amputation just to get rid of the fungating gangrenous mass and, by that time, in many cases, the cancer has spread throughout the body,” Pinto said.
“If these men had gotten the HPV vaccine in their teenage years, they, in many cases, never had to go down that road.
“So many cancers relate to HPV – throat cancer, cancer of the esophagus. If we can prevent 94 percent of cervical cancers through a vaccine, which is available through the Ministry of Health in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for free, why are we having these women dying such a needless death?
“Whether they’re 22, 45, 38 or 55, it impacts many young women and it’s a horrible death. The stench of cervical cancer is horrible. It’s horrible.
“I’m not talking about the pain, the health consequences and the deterioration. You’ll see a 20-year-old diagnosed with cervical cancer and it’s a tragedy.
“By the time they’re about to go and leave this Earth, they are skin and bones. They’re unrecognizable.
“All they had to do was get a free vaccine when they were younger. It’s insane.”
Pinto said much progress is being made on the development of a prostate vaccine.
“If there was vaccine for prostate cancer, I’d be singing it,” he said as he encouraged Bahamian parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated against HPV.