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Study reveals increasing incidence of prostate cancer in developing countries

Dr. Eliza Raymundo, Clinical Associate Professor of UP Manila-Philippine General Hospital (UPM-PGH) tackles screening controversy and incidence of prostate cancer among Filipinos

“Prostate cancer is the third most common male cancer in the entire world and half a million new cases continues to be diagnosed every year. There is an increasing incidence in both developed and developing countries,” said Dr. Eliza Raymundo, Clinical Associate Professor of University of the Philippines Manila of the Philippine General Hospital (UPM-PGH) during the Metro Manila Health Research and Development Consortium (MMHRDC) research forum last May 04, 2012 at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila.

Prostate cancer is a form of cancer that develops in the prostate, a gland in the male reproductive system. It may cause pain, difficulty in urinating and problems during sexual intercourse, or erectile dysfunction. Other symptoms can potentially develop during later stages of the disease.

In her study, “Prostate Cancer and the Filipino: Risk Assessment and the Screening Controversy,” Dr. Raymundo revealed that the incidence rate of prostate cancer in Asians is much lower compared to Caucasians. However, the low incidence is still alarming because when patients in Asian countries are diagnosed, it is already in the late stage, more commonly at stage 3 and stage 4 prostate cancer.

For early detection and treatment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in cancer screening. Doctors recommend yearly screening for men over age 50 and those who have a family history of the disease.

In the Philippines, annual screening with digital rectal exam (DRE) and PSA was recommended by the Philippine Urological Association. Together, these tests help doctors detect prostate cancer in men who have no symptoms of the disease.

To date, there is no data in the Philippines that shows the percentage of “screenable” Filipino males who undergo PSA testing. However, Dr. Raymundo cited a data in the US which shows that 46% of immigrant Filipino-Americans underwent PSA screening.

“Lower economic capabilities of many Asian countries preclude widespread use of PSA screening and this has contributed to the low detection rate in Filipinos,” said Dr. Raymundo.

To counteract increase risk of prostate cancer, Dr. Raymundo encouraged the consumption of phyto-estrogen-rich foods which exerts powerful anti-androgenic effects. Anti-androgen is a substance that blocks the action of androgens, which are hormones promoting the development of prostate cancer. Green tea and soy-derived foods such as tofu and dairy products are found to be rich in phyto-estrogen.

“Filipinos are not fond of drinking tea and eating tofu unlike other Asian countries. If we educate our patients, perhaps, we can make a difference in the future in the incidence of prostate cancer,” stressed Dr. Raymundo.