The Bendigo Prostate Cancer Support Group has unveiled a banner to raise awareness about men’s health.
To coincide with Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the group hope to spread the message of the importance for men to ensure they have their prostate health checked regularly.
Bendigo PCSG president Neil Macdonald said many men experienced no symptoms prior to their diagnosis.
“One needle in the arm for a blood sample can tell the doctor your cholesterol, thyroid, sugar and PSA levels in one simple test,” Mr Macdonald said.
“Men should be doing it every year.”
The aim of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is to increase public awareness while advocating for further research into prostate health issues.
Receiving a diagnosis
Some men think it will never happen to them.
For others, it is a reality.
Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men with more than 3000 dying of it each year in Australia.
Bendigo man Brian Eisfelder, 69, was diagnosed in early 2017, despite having no history of prostate cancer within his family and regularly having check-ups conducted by his general practitioner.
“Sometimes there can be symptoms such as frequency in urination and swelling of the prostate, but I didn’t experience any of them,” Mr Eisfelder said.
“It really came as a complete shock.”
Mr Eisfelder had a PSA test which returned a higher reading than normal and was then referred to a urologist who performed CT scans, an MRI and further biopsies to confirm the diagnosis.
“At the start I didn’t believe it, I was very emotional and it also took the family by surprise,” Mr Eisfelder said.
After the diagnosis Mr Eisfelder underwent a radical prostatectomy procedure which involves removing the prostate gland and the surrounding tissue.
A further 12 months later he underwent seven weeks of daily radiotherapy at the Peter MacCallum Radiotherapy Centre in Bendigo to stop the spread of any cancer cells from the prostate to other parts of the body.
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One of the biggest challenges throughout his experience of living with prostate cancer was after all the medical procedures were finished and he returned to normal life.
“I was really down in the dumps, I was very flat and physically I couldn’t walk or do much,” Mr Eisfelder said.
“I would just sit around all day doing nothing.”
Throughout the experience Mr Eisfelder received the love and support from his wife Christine which he needed to get him through, and afterwards looked for a way to help others and joined the Bendigo Prostate Cancer Support Group.
The group was formed in 1995 and offers emotional support and information about prostate cancer, with partners also invited to attend the monthly meetings.
Peter Ferrier joined the support group after he was diagnosed in early 2017 after 15 years of meticulously having annual PSA tests.
Mr Ferrier’s doctors conducted further investigations which indicated the presence of prostate cancer, so he then underwent robotic key hole surgery.
He has praised the support from the group and and his wife Sue as integral during the recovery process.
Both Mr Ferrier and Mr Eisfelder consider themselves as the “lucky ones” as they are fortunate the cancer cells haven’t spread to the body’s lymphatic system or brain which could lead to further complications.
For more information on the Bendigo Prostate Cancer Support Group please contact Neil Macdonald on 0430 037 922 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Don’t let the tests scare you
A medical specialist has urged men to ensure they are checked regularly for prostate cancer.
Urological Surgeon Stephen Lindsay has been involved with men’s health in Bendigo for over 20 years.
“There are no obvious symptoms for prostate cancer,” Mr Lindsay said.
“The only way to detect it is with investigations such as blood tests, internal examinations and MRI scans.
“The combination of the tests gives us a pretty good understanding of if a man is at risk of developing prostate cancer or not.”
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The prostate is a small gland located below the bladder near the rectum which produces the fluid integral to the creation of semen.
A Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood test involves the analysis of a specific protein, which will then indicate whether further investigations are required by a specialist.
The PSA test and internal examinations were traditionally used to diagnose prostate cancer, however, there are now digital alternatives which are less invasive.
“An MRI scan has now been subsidised through Medicare which has reduced the cost of testing for patients,” Mr Lindsay said.
“It has made early detection of prostate cancer a lot more precise and accurate.”
Age and family history are the two major risk factors of developing prostate cancer, with the chance of being diagnosed at approximately 1 in 7 by the age of 75.
The chance can also increase if there is a family history, especially if the relative was diagnosed at a young age.
“We all recommend that men be checked routinely by their GP after they turn 50,” Mr Lindsay said.
“Patients should have an initial assessment with a urologist to set a prostate cancer risk assessment for them, particularly where there is a family history.”
“The presence of prostate cancer can be predicted ahead of time with a single blood test.”
Other contributing factors which may increase the risk of developing prostate cancer include living an unhealthy lifestyle and poor diet.
Having a diet high in nutrients and exercising for around 30 minutes per day may reduce the risk and act as a protective factor against developing cancer.
Mr Lindsay said it was important to continue to raise awareness about men’s health.
“For not just prostate cancer, but all of the other tests which are very important,” Mr Lindsay said.
“There is a new generation coming through who are very aware, but all of the campaigns are important to ensure that multiple tests are undertaken regularly.”
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