HUNTER men are being encouraged to consider the importance of early detection when it comes to prostate cancer.
New data from the European Randomised Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer (ERSPC) presented in Sweden recently has given substantial credence to initial findings proving that Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) screening saves lives from prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is a common disease affecting one in six men in their lifetime.
The troubling fact is that the Hunter and New England regions continue to have a poorer outcome than the rest of NSW due to later diagnosis.
Dr Sandy Grant, director at Lake Macquarie Urology and HPCA’s medical adviser, says that although not perfect, PSA screening remains the only simple means of early diagnosis.
Evidence demonstrates that PSA testing reduces prostate cancer mortality. It is important to remember that an abnormal PSA reading does not always mean cancer, but men with abnormal PSAs should seek further assessment.
Dr Grant says that PSA testing, while an essential component of early detection, should not be considered on its own, but rather as part of a multivariable approach to early prostate detection.
He says that not all prostate cancers require surgery and there are other options available.
The experience of the diagnosis of prostate cancer and treatment is, for most men, a major life stress, affecting physical wellness, bodily integrity, intimate relationships and general lifestyle.
One in five men with prostate cancer may experience high psychological distress such as anxiety, depression, trauma-like symptoms, and an increased risk of suicide.
While most men demonstrate great resilience to this experience, many report high levels of psychological distress and have unmet needs for psychological support. The most common unmet psychological needs for men with prostate cancer are fears about the cancer returning or spreading, uncertainty about the future, and worry about close family.
Men are typically low users of psychological support and are less likely than women to access help from health care providers. Traditional masculine values such as self-reliance, being stoic in the face of difficulty, and showing emotional restraint, are all male gender scripts that prohibit men from engagement with psychosocial support.
The three-fold aim of the HPCA is to raise awareness of prostate cancer in the broader Hunter community, while encouraging early detection through PSA screenings and also to provide a free counselling service for men and their families who are facing a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
If you require more information or wish to make a counselling appointment, you can contact Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance on 4968 9455.
Dr John Toussaint is chief executive of Hunter Prostate Cancer Alliance, a Hunter charity providing counselling to prostate cancer sufferers, their partners, families and the community.