Wed, Jan

Dr. Nyarkotey with a concerned patient on awareness.

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The government in their manifesto promised to recognize the increasing incidence of cancers (childhood cancers, breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate and other cancers) as a national problem, establish centers at all levels of our healthcare delivery system for screening, diagnosis, early detection and prevention of these cancers, paid for under the restructured and revitalized NHIS.

“Those with a vision are made to struggle; though we have eyes, we do not see. Keep up the struggles! Those were the words from the former head of administration at the ministry of Health in a mail sent to me after successfully presenting my proposal for father’s day to become national prostate day of awareness. This proposal was submitted based on a directive from the then office of the president. This proposal was only a form of preventative medicine but others read diverse meanings into it. The implementation stalled as a result of controversies.

I later realized that Changing the healthcare system was quite challenging and so I decided to focus my research on patients. Late in my career, I was blessed to get funding for my research and be recognized through multiple awards. However, after some time, I realized that it is not about the awards or grant funding, it is about changing lives and making a difference.‘’I don’t want to sit in the Ivory Tower thinking I’m making a difference with the funding, publications and award’’. Says prof. Odedina. If I affect one person’s life through research, I have achieved my career goal. To make a difference in the world and fulfill what some people refer to “as my calling” I decided to focus on a disease that affects Black men in and that disease is prostate cancer.

I wasn’t surprised when recently the BBC reported that the number of men dying from prostate cancer has overtaken female deaths from breast cancer for the first time in the UK, figures show.

“An ageing population means more men are developing and dying from the disease” the report says. But I find this awkward as prostate diseases are not the natural states of men. Are they saying it is a taboo to age and therefore we shouldn’t age? We know men in Okinawan and other Asian territories known to be centenarians yet the place is a cold spot for prostate cancer.

The latest figures from 2015 show there were 11,819 deaths from prostate cancer compared with 11,442 from breast cancer.
This is also similar to Ghana cancer scenario if you take the statistics from the Ghana Health Service in 2015 published in the Daily Guide.

BBC graph on prostate and breast cancer deaths

Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?




The Ghana Prostate cancer figures

In Ghana, though the statistics of cancers varies due to lack of well-defined national cancer register to collate national figures. The few statistics available which is made public appears alarming with high mortality rate. Though with breast cancer there has been tremendous progress made the mortality rate is not something to take away. The number of men dying from prostate cancer is outrageous based on figures available.

Though advances in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are paying off, and increased funding could benefit prostate cancer. Recently, the Ghana News Agency reported that about 60,000 cancer cases are recorded annually. This was also attributed to report made known to the media by Dr Joel Yarney, the Head of the Medical Centre for Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. In another reports in the Daily guide, Seventy percent of cancer deaths in Ghana could be prevented if healthy lifestyles are adopted and early detection is made, this was attributed to Dr Efua Commeh of the Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) Programme, Ghana Health Service (GHS). Dr Commeh indicated that of the 16,000 new cancer cases recorded yearly in the country, more than 44 percent results in deaths.

“Data from the Ghana Health Service shows that 3052 cases of cervical cancer were recorded in 2015 out of which 1556 died, representing 51 percent, breast cancer also recorded 2260 cases with 1021 deaths, representing 45 percent, prostate cancer has 912 cases being recorded with 680 deaths, representing 75 percent.

Liver cancer had the highest fatality rate of 97 percent, claiming 1,856 lives out of 1923 cases recorded with 1,000 childhood cancers being recorded,” she said

I break down the findings for urgent national attention.

More men die of prostate cancer annually than Breast and Cervical cancer according to data obtained from GHS 2015 based on incidence and death figures on specific cancer type


Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?

 Fig1. Only 232 men are able to survive prostate cancer in Ghana when diagnosed compared to breast and cervical cancer.


 Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?

Fig 2. More people now die from Liver cancer than any other cancer in Ghana. Ghana cancer deaths situation in 2015 according to statistics from Ghana Health Service. Liver cancer has poor survival rate in Ghana according to data from GHS 2015. Only 67 are able to survive liver cancer yearly. Yet no awareness.


Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?

 Fig 3. Cancer death appears outrageous in Ghana.

In Africa some of the epidemiological studies have revealed the following incidences of the disease according to data obtained from the Ghana National cancer control strategy document pdf 2012-2016:

Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?

Fig 4. With this statistic Ghana even appears to lead in the incidence rate amongst these countries.

A cancer incidence rate is the number of new cancers of a specific site/type occurring in a specified population during a year, usually expressed as the number of cancers per 100,000 population at risk. That is, Incidence rate = (New cancers / Population) × 100,000. The numerator of the incidence rate is the number of new cancers; the denominator is the size of the population.


Do Men survive Prostate Cancer in Ghana?


Fig 5. Ghanaian men have poorer survival rate compared to the men in the UK. When Ghanaian men have less than 20% survival rate, UK men have over 70% survival rate.

With liver cancer only 3% are able to survive it, 49% survive cervical cancer, 55% survive breast cancer and only 25% also do survive prostate cancer. This is very worrying as the country itself has no well-defined national cancer register to be able to collate all the figures. This assessment is based on the Ghana Health Service data in 2015 published in the Daily guide.

Urgent National Intervention Needed

Interestingly, the president, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo led government in their 2016 manifesto promised a special cancer policy; the nation is yet to see any green light.

The government in their manifesto promised to recognize the increasing incidence of cancers (childhood cancers, breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate and other cancers) as a national problem, establish centers at all levels of our healthcare delivery system for screening, diagnosis, early detection and prevention of these cancers, paid for under the restructured and revitalized NHIS. It is time for the government to take action on this campaign promises. Ghana needs a national cancer foundation to start addressing this cancer situation.

The author of this article is urgently calling on the government to us a matter of urgency constituents a committee to start addressing the cancer situation in the country.

For those who blamed everything on the aging population and prostate cancer; I want you to remember that, Tom Brady plays for the New England Patriots. People love these two New York Yankees greats, Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. They were even honored in Boston when the year they retired and received a standing ovation.

How could one not like Rivera and Jeter despite being a Yankee hater? They were top performers in their craft even towards the later years of their career. I too am fascinated with high-level performers, particularly from aging men, says Dr. Geo Espinoza. You see, I am obsessed with graceful aging and the science related to it. OBSESSED.

I’m not sure why I am so fixated on longevity and graceful aging. But I am. Show me good material on anti-aging science, even on mice, and I’m all over it. Tom Brady is playing at a high level and will participate in yet another Super Bowl in about two weeks at the age of forty. FORTY. That’s eighty in football years.

How is he able to play so well at his age?

It seems like he is completely dedicated to keeping his body in peak shape. On his upcoming documentary series, Tom vs. Time, he says a power line that resonates a ton with me. He says, “If you are going to compete against me you are going to have to give up your life because I have given up mine.”

How is Tom Brady Defying Father Time?

For one, Brady is known for his meticulous diet. Apparently, he eats 80% vegetables; all organic, grass-fed meats, wild game and some whole grains and wild caught salmon. He doesn’t eat white sugar, white flour. MSG. Never cooks with olive oil. (Cooks with coconut oil) And doesn’t use table salt but sprinkle Himalayan sea salt on his food. Brady doesn’t do dairy or caffeine (imagine that?).

Some vegetables that might seem healthy to most people he doesn’t eat, like nightshades, for example. These are your tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. These can potentially be inflammatory to joints. He also seems to never cheat. Aging gracefully is like a sport. Notice how I am not calling it Anti-aging. That term is absurd. Of course, Brady is aging and so am I. But by doing the right lifestyle things I hope to make it a graceful process where optimal functionality is maintained.

Actually love my thirties. I finally feel like have enough wisdom to help my family and others live better.

Anti-aging? Please…

If I know anything about living longer and stronger, it’s that it takes work. It’s just not going to happen by itself. There are no shortcuts. It might take some obsessive type of discipline to successfully age. So what, says Espinoza. People will make comments about what you eat and call you a fanatic. Those should be taken as compliments. Besides, how healthy do they look?

Here’s the deal;

To age with strength and reduce the chances of chronic illness requires the type diligence a serious athlete like Brady has. You have to want it and live with that intention. And another thing, many life-threatening diagnosis’ are an opportunity, to get yourself together and rebuild your body. Like an athlete. Tom Brady is not the only one performing well with age. And that comes with eating right, staying away from crappy food and crappy people, physical training, sleeping early (less watching late night TV), and using a proper mix of dietary supplements.

The bottom line is this: Live like an athlete. Make your fitness goals and work for them. Train hard. Challenge yourself. And always work on strength and interval training, not just cardio. Push and pull weight against resistance. The stronger you are, the longer you live, especially men.

Final Thoughts on Aging Successfully

There are three things you care (or should care) about; your family, your work, and your health. And to succeed in all three takes work. There are no shortcuts.

Always, I mean ALWAYS resist the temptation of saying you don’t have time. We all make time to do things we value. And we waste plenty of time and procrastinate every day. I am no exception. Ultimately, you and I have to decide what’s important and stay focused on that. It’s not supposed to always be fun. I don’t like anything about vegetables, for example. But I eat plenty of them. Some people detest even the thought of exercise. Do it anyway if you want to succeed in the game of aging.

For me, living long and strong is the long game I want to play. I’d like to work until I’m well into my eighties like the great baseball announcer Vin Scully (retired at 88 years old) and reduce my risk aging diseases like cancer, chronic pain and overall weakness. I look forward to spending great times with my kids and eventual grandkids. That’s my goal. And I’m scoring. I’m not saying I will never cheat on my diet or that I will never succumb to a disease, but man, I want to do all I can to do the things I love for as long as possible. I am going to do better.

Why don’t you join me?

“When I see myself out there I feel like, man I still do this and I am doing it better than I’ve ever done it before, so why should I stop.” – Tom Brady

Raphael Nyarkotey Obu: Da Vinci college of Holistic Medicine, Larnaca city, Cyprus, Member of the Prostate cancer transatlantic consortium group (CaPtc) and President - Alternative Medical Association of Ghana (AMAG).0541234556


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