Prostate cancer is cancer in the prostate gland which is a part of the male reproductive system. While most take quite some time to attain their true form, they do become aggressive, and at later stages, they often infect other areas of the body like bones and lymph nodes. While the symptoms of prostate cancer are hard to detect in the initial stages, with 7% of all cancer cases it is the third leading cancer in this country, after lung and mouth cancers.
While India may have lesser rates of prostate cancer as compared to other races, the statistics are slowly changing. Men in the US are 12 times more likely to get prostate cancer as Indians. At the same time, South Asian genes are likely to cause 40% more deaths as compared to other races. Similarly, prostate cancer cases have increased by as much as 220% since the 1990s.
In addition to genes, what might be contributing to this is the change in lifestyle, with habits that have led to increased risk of cancer since the 90s- unprotected sex with multiple partners, drinking and smoking, leading sedentary lives, unwillingness to work on improving sexual health, unhygienic conditions, excessive consumption of fat and proteins, etc.
Yet, there is surprisingly little conversation regarding prostate cancer. While it is not exactly taboo, men, especially old men, often find it difficult to talk about their reproductive system failing them. It is a bit like the conversation surrounding breast cancer in this country- women are embarrassed due to modesty issues, while men are insecure about their virility. In addition, the relative lack of symptoms in the early stages and the cancer being more common among older men, make nipping prostate cancer in the bud difficult.
Cancer treatment itself is the most expensive health care expenditure in India, so much so that it has been found to be the biggest reason to ruin people financially. Prostate cancer is no different, as its treatment involves all the expensive procedures like radiation and chemotherapies, hormone therapy and ultimately, cryotherapy, which is the most advanced and the most expensive of them all. In fact, prostatectomy, or the surgical removal of the gland, while the least expensive option, is also the least efficient.
But today the crowdfunding platforms in India are helping in further increasing the conversation about this slow killer. As it happens in all poorly represented diseases, those putting up a crowdfunding campaign also contribute in raising awareness. The key lies in choosing reputed crowdfunding websites. Crowdfunding can work at various levels- private or personal. An underprivileged person can get himself treated, while a NGO or an organisation might ask for funding for mass treatment or improving the facilities to make it accessible to the poor. Today, one can hardly rely on the public health care system, which is regularly failing its citizens, and crowdfunding platforms in India are emerging as indispensable.