Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prostate Cancer

At Christmas, my dad was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer (PC).

There was nothing to suspect this at the time, no pain or symptoms. He was diagnosed purely by a routine blood test taken as part of his on going 'Well Man' check at his doctor's.

Pretty similar to women being diagnosed with Breast cancer after having a routine mammogram.

The blood test checked his PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) Levels, which is only produced by the prostate cells. This test, if above normal, gives indication of changes within the gland that therefore need to be followed up further with a Urologist (Surgeon who specialises in problems of the urinary system)
He needs to see a Urologist because the prostate gland (walnut in size) is located beneath the bladder in the male pelvis, the urethra, which drains urine from the bladder, passes through the prostate. The glands main function is to provide nutrition for sperm.

There are several different diseases of the prostate thus the reason to get a follow up to see eaxctly what is going on, whether it is cancer or not.

PC is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths amongst men, after lung cancer, although it is rarely diagnosed in men younger than 40.

In Australia, 1 in 11 will develope PC by the age of 75
In the USA, over 230,000 men are diagnosed with PC each year.
About 10% of PC runs in the family. So like Breast Cancer if there is an immediate family history, then routine check ups are adviced.
Over 600 men die of prostate cancer every year in NZ - this is directly comparable to those figures for breast cancer.
Over 2,500 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
Prostate cancer is now the prevalent form of cancer for NZ men.

So what is my dad doing?
Well he has been followed up and he has seen a lovely Urologist I know here in Hamilton.
He is now scheduled for surgery in 7 days time to surgically remove the prostate gland.
He is reasonable young (65) fit and healthy, so after the initial surgery and a little time of quiet and taking it easy, then he should be bouncing back fine, although that won't mean he will be playing squash 3 weeks later! He wasn't playing squash 3 weeks before so forget the after!

So what can you all do?
Help raise awareness of this silent disease. For men all it takes is a simple painless blood test to check their PSA each year. Due to infections etc in the prostate then a high reading does not always indicate cancer. However it is easier and safer to follow up with a biopsy and have an infection than to ignore it and have PC. So next time someone you love, who is over 50 is having a check up, then get them to add checking the PSA Levels to the test.

Men are well known for ignoring health issues, they are known for not going out of their way to have things done. They don't keep up with the latest findings and then decide to rush out and have that test or peocedure. We need to casually remind them of things everynow and then!

There is currently a challenge being undertaken by 4 guys downunder.

On 19th April 2009 4 of us will set out in a bid to become the first 4 man crew to row the Indian Ocean. We will be competing in the inaugural Indian Ocean Rowing Race to raise some much needed funds and awareness for man’s number one killer, prostate cancer. All being well the race will take approx 60-70 days and will see us cover approx 3,568 miles (5,742 kms), from Geraldton (Western Australia) to Mauritius...that's a long way and a long time to be sat on our prostates!

Go check out what the guys are doing and how they are getting on.

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