Prevention is the best medicine for any disease. In October the global focus was on the prevention of breast cancer among women and in November we turn our attention to the global Movember movement, which promotes men's health and raises funds to combat the silent killer of men – prostate cancer.
In Bulgaria, the Movember campaign has been organized since 2011 in order to raise awareness of health problems affecting men, including prostate and testicular cancer. The campaign also focuses on mental health issues and suicide prevention. Urologist Dr. Georgi Georgiev is one of the doctors who has welcomed the idea of the "male month" and he has been participating in the campaign for 9 years. The doctor has been struggling with the stigma of conservatism and the fear of preventive examination among Bulgarians.
There have been no real statistic data about prostate cancer patients in Bulgaria since 2016 and the figures used by Dr. Georgiev and his colleagues come from the European Association of Urology and the American Urological Association, where the control and registration of each patient are much stricter. In Bulgaria, more than 1,500 cases of the disease are diagnosed each year, but according to the specialist, the number of patients with this disease is much higher than the registered one. There is a solution and this is regular prevention, so that the disease can be diagnosed at an early stage, when it is completely curable.
"In Bulgaria, as well in other countries, this is the most common cancer among men. According to statistics, one out of 8 men is diagnosed with prostate cancer and most of these patients encounter the disease at old age. At the same time, this is the second leading cause of death in the world after lung cancer. Over the years, we have noticed that younger patients are being diagnosed with prostate cancer, which makes it a socially significant problem as many of these men are of active working age. When they are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease, it radically changes their whole life afterwards. The other problem with prostate cancer is that there are usually no complaints in the early stages of the disease. It is no coincidence that in urological circles we refer to it as ‘the silent killer’, because in most cases the patient does not suspect anything," Dr. Georgiev says.
The World Health Organization recommends that prostate cancer prevention should start with at least one examination a year for men over the age of 50. When the genetic factors are higher examinations should start earlier. "Examinations are the easiest and most affordable way for prevention and effective treatment," Dr. Georgi Georgiev says. He is happy that in recent years more and more young men have started visiting him for preventive examination. Many women have even started calling for consultation for their partners and loved ones.
Factors that delay a visit to the doctor in the past two years include the Covid-19 pandemic and the fear of visiting a doctor. This is an unfounded fear that can lead to major complications, Dr. Georgiev says and adds that modern treatment is extremely effective:
“We currently have much more modern equipment for diagnosing prostate cancer like 3D fusion biopsy. This is a method that combined with magnetic resonance imaging allows us to see cancer at a very early stage of the disease. This is a huge leap in diagnostics that gives us great abilities to help our patients."