Fellas, it’s time to get our heads out of the sand. One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer — but how much do you really know about the disease?
Prostate cancer kills more than 3,300 Aussie men every year. You’d think we’d be well and truly aware of the risks, then, but the experts say there’s still a lack of knowledge in the community about the disease and its treatment.
That’s why The Wesley Hospital will be holding a free seminar to set the record straight on the ‘myth-information’ floating out there around the disease.
“Many men have a habit of sticking their heads in the sand about health issues until it’s too late,” says The Wesley’s prostate cancer support nurse, Rachel Oxford, “and those are the men we want to reach.
“We need to be having open conversations about prostate cancer, because the reality is that one in seven of our fathers, sons and husbands will get this disease.”
The half-day ‘Crush Prostate Cancer’ seminar will offer men and their families a chance to find out more about the latest technologies in the detection and treatment of prostate cancer, the management of side-effects, and post-operative care.
Attendees will have a chance to hear from — and chat with — expert speakers, including The Wesley’s renowned urologist, Dr John Yaxley, in a relaxed setting.
“We believe that greater knowledge of prostate cancer in the community is essential to saving lives,” says Dr Yaxley. “More than 3,300 men die from prostate cancer every year, many because they don’t seek help early enough.”
Dr Yaxley believes that if men were better informed about the realities of prostate cancer, they’d have a better chance of survival.
“If men knew how quick and easy the latest prostate cancer tests are — for example a blood test and MRI scan — they wouldn’t be putting the test off,” he says.
“Working together, the PSA blood test and MRI scan reduce the need to conduct invasive biopsies. New MRI technology allows better diagnosis, increasing the effectiveness of treatment and eliminating unnecessary surgical procedures.
“Early diagnosis of prostate cancer gives people options. We have a much better chance of treating prostate cancer in the early stages of development, while it is still contained within the prostate.”
Dr Yaxley says it’s important for men to talk to their GP about prostate cancer before the first symptoms appear, particularly if they have a family history of the disease.
“There are no early symptoms of prostate cancer,” he explains. “If men wait for abnormal symptoms to appear — such as difficulty urinating or stopping urinating, pain or blood when urinating or swelling in the area — the prostate cancer is likely to be well advanced and may have spread into other organs.”
Dr Yaxley says it’s important for men who might be fearful of the disease to understand that prostate cancer doesn’t have to be a death sentence — particularly if it’s detected early on.
“Not all prostate cancers require surgical treatment,” he explains. “The vast majority of men with low-grade prostate cancer can live a completely normal, long and healthy life if well monitored.
“More effective, less intrusive prostate cancer treatments are being developed all the time; including robotic prostate surgery, improved radiation techniques and, where appropriate, focal therapy.
“Men with a high risk of prostate cancer, or those who have been diagnosed with the disease, need to know about these techniques.”
Essentially, what men need to understand is that a prostate check is just a normal part of a man’s life, and not something to be afraid of.
“One of the major myths we need to de-bunk is that a trip to the GP for a prostate check is a big deal,” says nurse Rachel Oxford. “It’s not — it’s quick and easy and may well save your life.
“And the fact is that six out of seven men will walk out of every check they ever have with a clean bill of health and a spring in their step.”
Anyone interested in learning more about prostate cancer, diagnosis, treatment options and managing side effects should attend the ‘Crush Prostate Cancer’ information session at The Wesley Hospital (Evan & Mary Thomson Auditorium) on Saturday 7 February from 9am to 12:30pm.
To register your interest, visit wesley.com.au/prostatecancer.