The man van does its rounds in the ’Plain

Mitchells Plain men queue to be screened at the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) man van at Baptist Church, corner of De Duin Avenue and Gleneagles Way, in Westridge, on Wednesday February 22.

Mitchell’s Plain men concerned about their health queued up to be screened for prostate cancer, at the Cancer Association of South Africa’s (CANSA’s) “man van”, which stopped at various venues in the area last week.

A total of 110 men were screened and two were referred to their doctors or local clinic for a digital rectal exam.

They completed a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test, during which the blood is tested for PSA, a protein produced by the prostate.

High levels may indicate inflammation of the prostate, or even cancer.

Cansa offers PSA screenings to men at risk, aged from 35 and routinely from 40 and older, at their care centres and mobile health clinics countrywide.

Last week they had screenings at Orion Church, in Rocklands, on Tuesday February 21; at the Baptist Church, in Westridge, on Wednesday February 22; and at Woodlands community hall on Thursday February 23.

Today Wednesday March 1, between 10am and 2pm, they will be screening men at the Baptist Church, corner of De Duin Avenue and Gleneagles Way in Westridge.

Cansa will also partner with the Western Cape Department of Health, for a men’s health outreach campaign at Liberty Promenade mall on Friday March 3, from 11am until 3pm.

The department will be raising awareness about men and their health, and to sound the alarm about early detection. Men will be able to have a wide range of free health screen tests, including cancer, blood pressure, blood sugar, tuberculosis (TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening and cholesterol levels.

Monique Johnstone, principal communications officer for Klipfontein and Mitchell’s Plain; and Western and Southern Sub-structures of the health department, said this kind of screening would help identify any potential illnesses that might occur before symptoms start to show – without men having to go to a health facility.

The Western Cape Mortality Report (2013) found that interpersonal violence, HIV/Aids and ischaemic heart disease remained the top three causes of premature mortality between 2009 and 2013 among men, with interpersonal violence being the leading cause of premature mortality in 2013.

These deaths were highest among men aged 20 to 30 years, and age standardised interpersonal violence rates were highest in Cape Metro sub-districts of Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Klipfontein and Tygerberg.

“Hopefully this men’s health initiative will help establish positive health-seeking behaviour and address interpersonal violence trends in communities, encouraging all men to look after their health by going for regular check-ups,” she said.

On arrival at the “man van”, the men were asked to complete a consent form and told about the screening, which would determine whether there was something wrong or irregular with their health, within 10 minutes.

Cansa volunteer and retired nurse Audrey Johnson, from Westridge, did finger prick tests in the van, where she extracted a few droplets of the men’s blood. She put it through a PSA test, which was mixed with an enzyme to determine whether referral was necessary.

Health Tips:

Men older than 40 should be screened, with the risk increasing after the age of 50.

Cansa suggests that to reduce the risk of cancer, one should go for regular screenings; not smoke; not consume alcohol; avoid being overweight; exercise for at least 30 minutes every day; eat at least five portions of fresh vegetables and fruit a day; and drink enough water.

Symptoms one should look out for include difficulty urinating; difficulty to start or stop the flow of urine, or the flow starts or stops by itself; a weak flow of urine, pain or burning sensation during urination; need to urinate often, especially at night; difficulty getting or maintaining an erection; blood in the urine or semen; painful ejaculations; and pain in the lower back, hips or upper thighs.

Rene Petersen, Cansa community mobiliser for service delivery, said it was good to see men taking ownership of their health.

She said their energy was infectious and that they were appreciative of the services Cansa offered.

Ms Petersen encouraged the public to support Cansa’s fundraising initiatives, including the Cansa Relay for Life Mitchell’s Plain at Stephen Reagan sports field, in Westridge, from 6pm on Friday March 3 until 6am Saturday March 4. She said pink fabric could be bought from the association and used to cover trees during October to show support for cancer survivors and those battling the disease.

For more information call Rene Petersen on 021 689 5347.