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Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer among Singaporean men1, and is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths. Early prostate cancer often goes unnoticed as it rarely exhibits any symptoms. As such, there is a significant proportion of men who present with advanced prostate cancer when the disease has spread to the lymph nodes, bones and other organs, thereby causing skeletal pain, bleeding or severe urinary obstruction.
While there are treatment options with good outcomes available for prostate diseases, many men assume urinary symptoms are part and parcel of ageing and do not discuss such symptoms with their physicians.
“When it comes to matters of personal health, men may resist getting medical help, even if this means being unwell or in pain, preferring to tough it out initially,” said Associate Professor Lee Lui Shiong, Head and Consultant, Urology Department, Sengkang General Hospital (SKH). “This leads to some men putting off a medical consult when something isn’t feeling or functioning right, thereby delaying diagnosis and treatment.”
To raise public awareness of prostate diseases and the importance of men’s health, the team of urological surgeons at SKH began The Running Men campaign in November 2021, in conjunction with Prostate Cancer Awareness month. As a team, the surgeons set out to run 30km each, over nine sessions, to advocate regular exercise and the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle They also took the opportunity to raise funds for patient care and research in prostate diseases. The campaign was timed to show support towards all men afflicted by prostate cancer. The team took on this challenge after seeing first-hand the implications on men’s health arising from the social restrictions and isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. As individuals who were also sons, brothers, fathers to their loved ones, they hoped to inspire and encourage more men to actively take care of their health.
“In the treatment of prostate diseases, physical exercise and rehabilitation help to optimise chances of survival and enhance mental well-being, in addition to the benefit derived from appropriate treatment. This forms a holistic approach to the treatment of prostate cancer, and inspired us to set out to do a running event,” said Dr Thomas Chan, Associate Consultant, Urology Department, SKH who was one of the runners.
The month-long campaign officially took off on 2 November 2021 and comprised twice-weekly team runs through rain and shine. With the generous support of the public and patients, the team managed to raise more than $60,000 at the end of the one-month campaign. These funds will support public education initiatives, patient care efforts as well as the advancement of research towards better diagnostic and treatment methods for prostate diseases.
On behalf of the team, Assoc Prof Lee thanked those who cheered them on and contributed to making the fundraiser a huge success.
Resident Physician at SKH’s Urology Department, Dr Vishnu Allagadda, who also supported the running campaign, emphasised that the end of prostate awareness month was just the beginning of their men’s health journey. “I would like to remind men to continue to stay active, avoid smoking and excessive drinking and get adequate sleep as these habits will go a long way in lowering the risk of developing chronic diseases,” he said.
1Singapore Cancer Registry Annual Report 2018 – National Registry of Diseases Office: https://www.nrdo.gov.sg/publications/cancer