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Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September 10, 2021

People sitting down and gesturing with their hands.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. 

Early prostate cancer rarely demonstrates symptoms. Even when prostate cancer is advanced at the time of diagnosis, there may be no symptoms.

Nevertheless, Cancer Council Tasmania recommends that men get to know the symptoms of prostate cancer. If they experience any of them, they should discuss their options with their doctor. 

Over past years, the number of prostate cancer diagnoses has increased to more than 19,000 each year in Australia.

But increased diagnoses may not be a bad thing: early detection with any cancer can save your life.  

Compared with other cancers, prostate cancer has one of the highest five-year survival rates if it is diagnosed early.

Cancer Council Tasmania’s investment in Tasmanian-based research of prostate cancer has produced the following positive results.

  • Prostate cancer is the cancer with the highest diagnosis rate in Tasmania.
  • Prostate cancer is rare before the age of 45, with the statistics indicating that over 560 Tasmanian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. 
  • It equates to 29 per cent of all cancer diagnoses among Tasmanian males and accounted for just over 8 per cent of cancer deaths among males in Tasmania in 2017. 

Prostate cancer is not preventable.

The causes of it are unknown, but factors that can increase the risk include older age (60 to 79) and family history.

There are things you can do that may reduce the risk of getting prostrate cancer.

Aside from a good diet and body weight, there is evidence to show regular physical activity and exercise can be protective factors.

There is no single, simple test to detect prostate cancer. It is important to make your own decision about whether to be tested or not. Ensure you get good quality information from your doctor to make an informed decision. 

Cancer Council Tasmania’s position on testing is this: every man has the right to decide for himself whether or not to be tested – but his decision should be an informed choice. 

Unfortunately, current tests for prostate cancer are not good at differentiating between cancers needing aggressive treatment and those that should be left alone.  

More research needs to be done to develop a more accurate test for prostate cancer and better treatment outcomes.  

Cancer Council Tasmania is also aware that there is in inequity of access to some testing options. 

A PET (positron emission tomography) scan may help detect cancer that has spread or come back. For prostate cancer, the scan usually uses gallium to show prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA). The cost of this scan is not covered by Medicare.

If you do not have sufficient funds and cannot afford private health insurance, your ability to access a PSMA scan is limited.

This needs to change. All men with a prostate cancer diagnosis should have access to this test if needed.    

Support at Cancer Council Tasmania is always available. Call 1300 65 65 85 for more information.