Dr John D’Arcy - Movember

November 12, 2007, 1:53 pmnewidea

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New Idea health expert Dr John D'Arcy tells us how to fight prostate cancer

There are mo limits when it comes to growing moustaches for prostate cancer. So next month, get your bloke to join thousands of Mo Bros to help reach the $2 million target for Movember.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men
after skin cancer. And sadly, this year around 3,000 men will die from it.

Prostate cancer poses three big problems for us blokes. Firstly, we're not very good at going to the doctor anyway - we're usually only dragged there kicking and screaming by the missus. Secondly, there's no national screening program for prostate cancer. And thirdly, prostate cancer often has no symptoms.

So what's a fella to do?

The only way prostate cancer can be identified is by a biopsy, where samples are taken from the prostate and analysed. There are two tests to help determine if you need this: a digital rectal examination (DRE) to look for internal lumps and a prostate specific antigen test (PSA).

PSA is a chemical made by the prostate gland, and when it's abnormal through age or cancer, PSA leaks into the bloodstream. The test measures the PSA in the blood. It's currently not endorsed by the Cancer Council NSW because readings vary with age and sexual activity, and a man may have cancer of the prostate but a normal PSA.

In other words, they're given a false sense of security. On the other hand, a false positive PSA means they worry needlessly because only a third of men with elevated PSA actually get prostate cancer.

But a growing number of doctors (including me) still believe every man should be offered a PSA test at 50. So don't be one of the 85 per cent of Aussie men who never get one. At least chat to your doctor.

Associate professor Phil Stricker, a urologist from St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney, says these tests increase your chances of detecting a curable cancer. And the side effects from treatment are also much less severe with early treatment.'The key is to work with your family doctor and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to find an expert doctor in this field,' he says. 'That's hard if you live away from the city, but it's the key to excellent treatment. If you're not happy, go elsewhere.'

Most cancers detected by PSA and DRE are significant and can be aggressive, but modern treatments can give high cure rates.

For more information about prostate cancer, visit www.prostate.org.au

Join thousands of men in the fight prostate cancer this Movember

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