The Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) is currently implementing a nationwide prostate cancer campaign tagged “More Time for Life”. And it’s aimed towards prevention, early detection and successful treatment of Prostate cancer among its officers and men.

One in 9 men will be diagnosed with Prostate cancer in their lifetime, with black men more at risk of the disease than white men. Though the disease can be serious, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it due to increased chances of early detection through regular screening.

About three thousand officers and men of the customs would be screened during the More Time for Life campaign which is in partnership with Johnson and Johnson – a member of the Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and MDoc, Nigeria.

“More Time for Life” campaign is also intended to draw attention to the need for regular screening which would lead to early detection of prostate cancer and increase the chances of successful treatment, thereby giving the survivor more time to do those things they consider important in their quest for a life of fulfillment.

“No one is going to live forever, but the absence of diseases and treatment when discovered early definitely prolongs our lives” says Ukeh Idahosa, Medical Science Liaison, Johnson and Johnson, Nigeria.

“Prostate cancer is real, gentlemen!” Idahosa warned. “I’m married, I have two brothers and I have a father- all of them men that I love so much, but truth is they all have to get tested and know their PSA level early enough for us to have more time for ourselves.”

The Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ibrahim Ali (Rtd), flagged off the screening exercise at the Nigerian Customs Headquarters, Wuse, Abuja last week. The CGS who was represented by David Chikam, Deputy Comptroller of Customs in charge of Finance, Admin and Technical Services, said the screening exercise is a commitment towards ensuring that officers have more time for life by improving health seeking behaviours which includes regular check-ups. “A stitch in time saves nine” he says, “but you never know who is incubating something until you’ve done the necessary tests.”

The CGS representative demonstrated leadership by example by doing his own Prostrate Specific Antigen (PSA) test while others followed.

A PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man’s blood. A blood sample is taken and sent to the laboratory for analysis. The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter of blood.

PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, which is a small gland that sits below the bladder in males. For early detection and treatment, this test becomes part of routine tests for all adult males the moment they turn 40. PSA levels can go up and down. And levels tend to be higher in older men and those with large prostates.

Any PSA range above 4 is abnormal. There is also a need for concern when the PSA increases annually, though still below 4.

“Prostate cancer is one of the cancers that is easy to treat especially when detected early” says Dr. Odunayo Ikuerowo, Consultant Urologist and transplant surgeon at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).

“Unfortunately, so many men are dying of the disease and this is largely due to lack of screening to detect it early and treat immediately” says Ikuerowo who is also a professor of urology at the Lagos University College of Medicine (LASUCOM).

Ikuerowo was speaking at the Customs Training College, Ikeja which was the venue for the Lagos phase of the screening exercise.

Prostate cancer may cause no signs or symptoms in its early stages. Enlargement of the prostate which is an inevitable occurrence in men with the onset of old age is a sign that all may not be too well and there is cause for concern. And signs that this abnormality has become cancerous could be present in the form of trouble while urinating, decreased force in the stream of urine, blood in the urine, blood in the semen, bone pain and erectile dysfunction.

Dr. Kalba Danjuma, Consultant Urologist, State House Hospital, Abuja hinted that more blacks who migrated to America, according to studies, have increased chances of developing prostate cancer as a result of change in diet. “That is why we advise that you eat as natural as possible; tomatoes specifically is rich in antioxidants that acts on the prostates.”