Dr Dirk Ligthelm of The Urology Hospital in Pretoria says men should consult their GP or urologist for a prostate blood test (PSA) and a rectal examination. A PSA measures the level of prostate-specific antigen (protein) in the blood and a rectal examination allows a urologist to feel for irregularities on the prostate.

“An elevated PSA level and a suspicious nodule on the prostate on rectal examination should be followed by a prostate biopsy to detect whether there is cancer and at what stage it is. Appropriate treatment is then considered,” said Ligthelm.

He added that men without a family history or with no symptoms of prostate cancer should start having annual prostate examinations from age 45.

The prostate is a gland in the male reproductive system which secretes fluid that nourishes sperm. A study shows that prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death worldwide.

Ligthelm explained that the latest trend in cancer detection in the prostate involves combining MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and ultrasound scanning, to create a 3D image of the prostate to more accurately locate suspicious areas and help diagnose cancer.

“This new approach is helping improve the detection rate and also helps make a better and more accurate diagnosis.”


The most common treatment for a cancerous prostate is a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate) and minimally invasive robotic surgery is fast becoming the most effective option, added Ligthelm.