Prostate cancer (PC) is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia and the second greatest cause of cancer deaths in men.
In 2010 almost 20,000 men were diagnosed with prostate cancer. (women breast cancer 14,000) Tragically more than 3,300 men died as a direct cause of prostate cancer – second highest after lung cancer.
Research into breast cancer has been massive and accordingly detection and treatments have improved such that some breast cancers have a 98% – 5 year survival. As funding enables similar research into prostate cancer we might expect the survival rates to increase.
Prevention and Risk Minimisation:
For all men, the probability of getting prostate disease increases with age. However, except in cases of genetic predisposition, men can help keep the risk as low as possible by eating healthy food.
Today we know that eating lots of animal fats, in particular the saturated ones and heated fatty acids increase the risk of developing prostate carcinomas (prostate cancer).
Also oxidative stress in the body, defects in proteins, fats and especially in the genetic make-up may be main causes of cancer of the prostate gland.
Clearly good nutrition, regular exercise, reduced stress,being in a loving relationship, connecting with nature – seem to help with prevention but studies are not yet definitive.
Although tests aimed at helping diagnose prostate cancer are available – there is no national screening program in place, with current evidence showing that the PSA test is not suitable for population screening as the harms outweigh the benefits. Whether or not to be tested for prostate cancer is a matter of individual choice. See Govt and Cancer Council Statement
From the Prostate CancerFoundation of Australia – http://www.prostate.org.au/
Prostate Cancer Statistics
What is the chance for a diagnosis of prostate cancer:
For a man in his 40s – 1 in 1000For a man in his 50s – 12 in 1000For a man in his 60s – 45 in 1000For a man in his 70s – 80 in 1000 •Each year in Australia, close to 3,300 men die of prostate cancer – equal to the number of women who die from breast cancer annually. Around 20,000 new cases are diagnosed in Australia every year.
•Each day about 32 men learn news that they have prostate cancer – tragically one man every three hours will lose his battle against this insidious disease
•One in 9 men in Australia will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime
•Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men and is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men
•As many men die from prostate cancer as women die from breast cancer but… a national survey by PCFA in 2002 showed that while 78% of women felt well informed about breast cancer – only 52% of men felt informed about prostate cancer
The chance of developing prostate cancer increases:
•as men get older.
•if there is a family history of prostate cancer eg a man with a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer
•Early, curable prostate cancer may not have symptoms. While younger men are less likely to be diagnosed with it, they are more likely to die prematurely from it
•Simple testing by a GP can indicate prostate cancer
•Early detection can be achieved with PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test or DRE (Digital Rectal Examination) testing. Our research in 2002 shows that only 10% of men surveyed between the ages of 50 and 70 had taken these tests in the previous year.
•Some groups are at greater risk of prostate cancer
•… for example, for every 100 men who dies of prostate cancer in a metropolitan area of Australia (such as Melbourne or Sydney) 121 men will die in rural Australia. Various factors may include lack of awareness and education about prostate cancer, distance from testing and treatment, poor GP awareness and limited access to specialists (such as urologists)
•The Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia states that veterans have a 53% higher mortality rate from prostate cancer than the average population
•A recently published international study showed that firefighters have a 28% higher risk of prostate cancer
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is an abnormal growth of cells in the prostate that form a lump (tumour). In time, without treatment, it may spread to other organs, particularly the bones and lymph nodes, which can be life threatening. Generally at the early and potentially curable stage, prostate cancer does not have obvious symptoms. This makes it different from other benign prostate disorders, which may result in urinary symptoms.
What are the symptoms of prostate cancer?
In the early stages of prostate cancer, there may be no symptoms at all. As prostate cancer develops, symptoms can include the need to urinate frequently, particularly at night, sudden urges to urinate, difficulty in starting urine flow, a slow, interrupted flow and dribbling afterwards, pain during urination or blood in the urine or semen.
NOTE: It is important to note that these symptoms are not always signs of prostate cancer. They can also be
symptoms of other common and non-life threatening prostate disorders. Men who experience these symptoms
should see their doctor immediately, to determine the cause and best treatment.
What testing methods are available?
There is currently no population based screening for prostate cancer and this leads to confusion amongst men and their doctors. There are issues related to testing and treatment which should be discussed prior to making a decision whether to be tested. For more information go to: www.prostate.org.au/testing-for-prostate-cancer.php
Two simple tests can be done by a doctor.:
• The Digital Rectal Examination (DRE). The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel the prostate gland. This may detect hard lumps in the prostate before symptoms occur
• The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test. This test measures the amount of PSA in the blood. PSA blood test is not a cancer specific diagnostic test however it will alert doctors to abnormal growth in the prostate. A combination of both a DRE and PSA blood test is recommended. These tests should be considered as part of a general male health check annually from 50 years of age or 40 if there is a family history of prostate cancer. If either the DRE or PSA tests are abnormal, the doctor may conduct a second series of tests or refer to a Urologist, who may recommend a biopsy. The biopsy is a definitive way of diagnosing prostate cancer and will determine the stage (how far the cancer has spread) and grade (how rapidly it is likely to spread). This information is used to determine the risk the cancer poses to the man’s health and life expectancy.
NOTE: Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) research indicates that most men who have had the DRE test said it was a simple, painless exercise.
Who should be aware of prostate cancer and what should they do?
It is recommended that men aged 50 and over should talk to their doctor about prostate cancer and if they decide to be tested, to do so annually. If there is a family history of prostate cancer; men should talk to their doctor from the age of 40.
What is the overall risk of developing prostate cancer?
A man has a 1 in 5 risk of developing prostate cancer by the age of 85* A man with a first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with prostate cancer (brother or father) has at least twice the risk. Men in rural and regional Australia have a 21% higher prostate cancer mortality rate than men in capital cities**.