Prostate Cancer Treatment in South Africa

Prostate cancer is the cancer of prostate gland. The cells of prostate glands divide abnormally leading to the formation of a tumor. This causes hindrance in the normal urinary function and various other symptoms are experienced by the patient. People above the age of 40 are at risk for developing this disease and the risk increase significantly after the age of 65 years. Prostate cancer is not common in the people below the age of 40 years. The prostate gland is present in the abdominal region just beside the urinary tract. The function of this gland is to provide protection and nutrition to the sperms and the secretion of prostate forms the part of semen.

The screening of prostate cancer is done through the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) Testing, however reduction of death due to prostate cancer through the screening is controversial as the test does not provide a conclusive result. PSA is secreted in higher concentration by the malignant prostate cells and the high level of this antigen in the blood may indicate the presence of cancer. However, the concentration of PSA may also increase in Benign Prostate Hyperplasia and Prostatitis. In some cases, the level of PSA is not increased even in the presence of cancer.

Various hospitals in South Africa are capable of successfully treating, managing or during prostate cancer. Some are Multispeciality hospitals with a separate department of urology while some hospitals such as The Urology Hospital are exclusively dedicated to urological disorders. As a leader for medical facilities in the African continent, the country has access to the latest technology and experienced doctors. Every year, thousands of patients from developed and developing countries such as Europe, USA, and Africa visits South Africa for medical treatment.

Evidence-based treatment is one of the USP of South Africa when it comes to Prostate cancer treatment. All the treatment available for prostate cancer is performed in South Africa such as Radiotherapy, Surgery, and Brachytherapy. The best treatment strategy depends upon the condition of the patient.

Cost Comparison

The cost of prostate cancer treatment especially of surgery is significantly less as compared to the US and other developed countries. While, the cost of prostatectomy in the US ranges from $35000 to $100000, the cost of robotic prostatectomy in South Africa is approximately $10000. Cost of robotic surgery is higher as compared to open surgery. The cost of treatment of prostate cancer in South Africa depends upon various factors. These factors include the type of surgery, stage of the disease and the cost of medications. The cost of treatment significantly varies among the hospitals in South Africa due to different ranges of facilities provided and the technologies used during surgery. The experience of the doctors and their success rate also have an impact o the overall cost.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Prostate cancer is the malignancy of the prostate cells. The oncogene in these cells becomes dominant over the tumor suppressor gene leading to uncontrolled growth. The exact cause of this cancer is not known, however, research on a various patient suffering from prostate cancer reveals that certain factors increase the risk of cancer:

a) Age: Risk of prostate cancer increase with age. The risk increases after 40 years of age and people over the age of 65 years have high risk.

b) Race: Statistics shows that the risk of developing prostate cancer is increased in individuals of a certain race. African American men are at higher risk as compared to Caucasian or Hispanic men.

c) Diet: Diet also plays an important role in developing prostate cancer. Dust rush in animal fat and red meat increases risk. Further, obesity is another factor to be looked upon as obesity is also linked to prostate cancer.

d) Testosterone level: Increase in testosterone level increases the risk of prostate cancer. High level of testosterone increases the growth of the prostate gland.

e) Lifestyle: People who excessively drink or smoke are at a higher risk of developing cancer.

f) Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia: Presence of Prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia, an abnormal condition of the prostate gland, raises the risk of this cancer.

g) Family History: People whose close relatives i.e. father, brother or son had diagnosed with cancer, are at increased risk.

h) Genomic changes: Mutation in genes such as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 increases the risk of prostate cancer.

i) Prostate diseases: The risk of prostate cancer is also increased due to the presence of underlying diseases such as Benign Prostate Hyperplasia or Prostatitis.

The average cost of prostate cancer treatment in South Africa is significantly lower as compared to the US and many other countries. This is the reason that many patients visit South Africa for the treatment of prostate cancer, especially through robotic surgery. The average cost of robotic surgery in South Africa is approximately $10000 however, it may vary depending upon the city, hospital or the doctor performing the surgery. Also, the cost of treatment depends upon the age and the speed of recovery.

Surgeries for prostate cancer are performed with high success rates in South Africa, thanks to the extensively experienced urologists and modern technologies along with highly trained support staff that works tirelessly before, during and post-surgery. Following are the various surgeries available for prostate cancer in South Africa:

1) Robotic-Assisted Surgery: Robotic-assisted surgery has changed the way of performing the prostatectomy. Through this technique, surgeons can perform complex prostatectomy with ease and precision.

2) Open Prostatectomy: This surgery is performed manually by the surgeon. This surgery is generally conducted to remove the areas, other than the prostate gland, in which cancer has spread such as lymph nodes.

3) Laparoscopic Surgery: Laparoscopic surgery is the part of a minimally invasive procedure. A small incision is made on the abdomen to insert the instruments along with the tube with a camera at the end to assist the removal of the prostate gland.

Recovery from prostate surgery depends upon various factors. These factors include age, response to post-surgical treatment, level of immunity and complications due to surgery. With the high-tech techniques used in South Africa, the sexual activity takes just 3-4 months after surgery, while previously it requires almost a year or more and that too with only 50% activity.  Vital nerves are prevented from damage leading to less recovery period. Further, the recovery period with modern technology is less due to a minimally invasive procedure, reduced blood loss and fewer complications. The hospital day is reduced to 3 days from 6 days in the past leading to lesser treatment cost. Urinary process in robotic-assisted surgery requires less time to get normal. The catheter used for urination would remove after 2-3 weeks of surgery. Pain, swelling, and constipation are treated with the medications. The patient may be able to walk and eat a normal diet within 24 hours to 48 hours after surgery. The complete recovery may take about 4 weeks.

Various hospitals in South Africa are well equipped to treat patients suffering from prostate cancer. These hospitals are situated in major cities of South Africa such as Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth, and Cape Town. Following are the top hospitals:

1) Netcare Chris Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town

2) Waterfall City Hospital, Madrand

3) The Urology Hospital, Pretoria

4) UCT Private Academic Hospital, Cape Town

5) Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital, Johannesburg

6) Netcare Greenacres Hospital, Port Elizabeth

There are a number of sought after Prostate Cancer Surgeons in South Africa. Some of the most prominent ones are listed below:

1) Dr. Greg Boustead, Netcare Chris Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town

2) Dr. Lance Coetzee, The Urology Hospital, Pretoria

3) Dr. Howlett Justin, UCT Private Academic Hospital, Cape Town

4) Dr. Stephen M. Eppel, Netcare Christiaan Barnard Memorial Hospital, Cape Town

5) Dr. Ahsan Ahmad, Ahmed Kathrada Private Hospital, Johannesburg

6) Dr. Van Heerden, The Urology Hospital, Pretoria

7) Dr. Johannes Brummer, Netcare Greenacres Hospital, Port Elizabeth

8) Dr. Johan Coetzee, Netcare Greenacres Hospital, Port Elizabeth

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