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Curing prostate cancer - awareness and education
07 April 2015
Tackling prostate cancer
Australia has the highest incidence rates internationally of prostate cancer - and the poorest survival rates of the Western Nations.
The community-based organisation, ManUp! is dedicated to providing support for men affected by prostate cancer and will be hitting the road later this year (2015) to raise awareness across Queensland and Victoria.
Established in response to the need for dedicated prostate care nurses in hospitals throughout Australia, ManUp! recognises the importance of the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer.
ManUp! challenges men to “man up” and overcome the stigma that is associated with proactively looking after their own health. Early detection not only saves lives but can also preserve the quality of life.
Men from regional and rural Australia have the poorest outcomes, which makes addressing issues according to where men live of national importance.
One in five men in Australia will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men, accounting for 30 percent of all new cancers in 2010.
There are approximately 22,000 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed every year and it is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in Australian men.
There are more than 120,000 men living with prostate cancer in Australia.
Prostate cancer claims almost 3,300 lives a year in Australia – 2400 women die from breast cancer in an average year.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts that the incidence of prostate cancer will rise dramatically in the next 10 years.
While 78 percent of women felt well informed about breast cancer, only 52 percent of men felt informed about prostate cancer.
In the early stages of prostate cancer there are often no symptoms.
Younger men are less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer but are more likely to die prematurely from it.
More and more men in their 40s and 50s are being diagnosed with prostate cancer.
A simple test by a GP can indicate prostate cancer – early detection can be achieved with a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) blood test.
Men with a family history of prostate cancer may have an increased risk of developing the disease and the Cancer Council suggests that these men should see their doctor for ongoing management on a yearly basis once they approach 40. The initiative is not supported by the Federal Government.
The survival rate for prostate cancer is around 87 percent.
66 percent of Australian men who have had prostate cancer experience side effects following treatment which significantly affects their quality of life.
My name is Carl Neilsen (above with his young sons). In December 2008, at age 39, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
At the time of my diagnosis, my two boys were both under two, so telling my family was one of the hardest things I had to do. The emotion I felt at the time was beyond description. I had to stay composed and be positive.
My immediate thought after the news was: “How will I make sure my family is OK?”
Secondly, “What the hell is a prostate gland?”
The weeks following my diagnosis, I set about getting all I could in place for my family. I researched as much as I could about prostate cancer and the multiple modes of treatment. My doctor offered great advice and helped me make the decision to undergo a radical prostatectomy.
My view was if we remove the prostate, I have the best chance at a cure.
There were many side effects but with the nature of what I was facing, the idea of living with incontinence and/or impotence had no meaning.
My primary goal was looking after my family, and doing whatever I could to beat this disease.
At the end of March 2009 I underwent surgery. The operation went well, and I spent five days in hospital as recovery was painful and slow. I started to think about other blokes in similar positions and realised I was far from alone.
I began talking to other blokes about men’s health and was shocked at how poorly informed we are about the most basic health issues.
Blokes are like cars; we require good fuel, clean air, rest and servicing. If we don’t get these basic requirements, we will break down.
I decided I wanted to do something to get other blokes looking after their health, so they would be around to look after their own families.
In 2014, I, along with ManUp! founders Brian and Jill Costello and friends Lang and Bev Kidby, set off in a 1924 Dodge Brothers Utility and a 1942 Dodge Carry All to encourage men to be more vigilant with their own health, whilst raising funds for ManUp! to support men living with prostate cancer.
We covered approximately 7100 km and visited more than 40 communities around regional and rural Queensland.
We're tackling prostate cancer one nurse at a time. Please visit www.manupaustralia.org.au for more information and to support.