Creating awareness of Prostate Cancer

Katekat Cancer Council NSW

The month of September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month across Australia!

 

We’re asking Australians to get involved and raise awareness of prostate cancer in their own lives and communities, as well as highlighting the many support services available to men with prostate cancer and also to their families, friends and carers.

 

What is prostate cancer?

When abnormal cells in the prostate gland start growing in an uncontrolled way, this is the beginning of what is known as prostate cancer. It’s important to investigate any symptoms or abnormal test results in a prompt manner, even though in most cases, prostate cancer grows slower than others but in some cases, it can grow and spread quickly.

 

It is the most common cancer in Australian men, with approximately 18,000 new cases diagnosed each year. 1 in 6 men are at risk of developing prostate cancer before they turn 85, as the risk increases with age. It is uncommon in men younger than 50, but not unheard of. The risk is higher for men with a history of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer than those who have no family history of cancer.

 

What are the symptoms?

There are often no symptoms with early prostate cancer, even when it is advanced, it isn’t unheard of to not be experiencing any symptoms at all.

 

Some signs of advanced prostate cancer may include the following:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent or sudden need to urinate
  • Lower back pain or in the hips and pelvic region
  • Blood in urine

There is another condition known as Benign Prostate Hyperplasia or BPH that may also account for any symptoms related to the prostate or any growth that can cause problems with urine flow. This condition is usually a normal part of our ageing process, and not cancerous.

 

BPH can cause symptoms with urination, such as the following:

  • The stream being weak
  • Increase in the frequency of urination, especially at night
  • Having to urinate suddenly and urgently
  • Trouble urinating
  • Dribbling after you have urinated
  • Bladder not feeling empty

For any of these symptoms, it is always best to consult with your GP.

 

Stages of prostate cancer

  • Cancer cells that have grown but not spread beyond the prostate is known as localised or early prostate cancer.
  • When the cells grow, expanding outside the prostate into other glands that are close to the prostate or even other parts of the body, such as the bladder or rectum, this is known as locally advanced prostate cancer.
  • When the cells spread to more distant parts of the body such as bones or lymph nodes, then this is known as metastatic prostate cancer.

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There are no tests with sufficient accuracy to screen the male population for the early stages but early detection and subsequent treatment can improve outcomes. If you are in any way concerned, please consult with your GP.

 

To find out more about the diagnosis process and how prostate cancer can be managed or treated, please read our Understanding Prostate Cancer publication, published by Cancer Council.

 

Some of our other publications that may be of interest:

Cancer Council also regularly run webinars, focussing on different areas. The following may be of particular interest to men with prostate or other cancers:

 

What other support is available?

The following services are all entirely free and run by Cancer Council around Australia:

  • 13 11 20: Our telephone information and support service is available Australia-wide, Monday to Friday during business hours at the cost of a local call.
  • Online Community: Got a question? Ask it here in the Cancer Council Online Community! This is a peer support space for anyone affected by cancer to share experiences and seek information, in a safe environment that is managed by trained health professionals.
  • Cancer Connect: Talking to someone over the phone, who has had a similar cancer experience can make all the difference. Our trained volunteers have been there, and can listen with a unique understanding whilst sharing their experiences to provide practical information and support. Call 13 11 20 to enquire further or if you’re in NSW, call (02) 9334 1870.
  • Telephone Support Group: Our Telephone Support Groups are a national service, offering a similar dynamic to that of face-to-face support groups, but from the comfort of your own home over the telephone. They provide a unique space to openly and regularly talk with others in your situation so that experiences, information and coping strategies are shared. There are TSG’s held regularly for those with advanced forms of cancer and for those whom may be caring for someone with cancer. Call 1300 755 632 to find out more.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia also run face-to-face support groups across Australia, find your local support group here. They also have great research blogs and a dedicated community.

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