13 September 2019

Letter to the Editor
The West Australian
Friday, 13 September 2019

As a Urologist treating men with mainly advanced prostate cancer, I was hoping to bring to a local slant on this disease. It is important for men in WA to know that biopsies are not painful, as all are done under an anaesthetic, and that published data shows that we find cancer in over 70% of cases and that 70% of these are aggressive, over 2.5 times the rate of overseas studies. We don’t know why. Whilst new tests and progress are needed in prostate cancer, we could make a huge leap forwards by men being tested according to the Australian consensus guidelines. Men over 50 should have a PSA test every 2 yrs or start earlier if they have a positive family history. PSA testing is is still the best way of avoiding death and spread of prostate cancer. As with all screening tests there are potential downsides and this is why specialists are involved with you in decision making. The PCFA has just released a guide to help men in decision making that can be found on their website, www.prostate.org.au. With a 1 in 5 lifetime risk of diagnosis and an incidence and death rate higher than breast cancer, prostate cancer is a major health issue for all men. We have a lot to do still, but the first steps start with a simple blood test, that we already have, but are not using as we should. Early detection remains your best chance of a good outcome.

Dr Tom Shannon
Urologist and PCFA (WA) Board Member