My father was diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of 69. He is now 85 and still going strong. Two of my uncles never went for a PSA test. They died of prostate cancer in their mid 70’s. I was diagnosed with PC when I was 51. With the genes I have passed on to my sons, they have a 50:50 chance of developing PC, and they are much more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer.
The key to prostate cancer survival is early detection! If the cancer is detected while it is still confined to the prostate gland, then surgery is almost a guaranteed fix. The problem with the detection methods is that we cannot distinguish between slow-forming cancers which are not life threatening, and the less common aggressive forms of PC which will lead to an early death.
The down side of cancer treatment is the damage that it causes. Most men who have prostate cancer treatment end up with permanent erectile dysfunction. Other complications include urinary incontinence, peyronies disease, inguinal hernia and even faecal incontinence. Not surprisingly, most guys who have been treated for PC end up with some degree of depression following their treatment.
I am participating in the ProState Active bike ride because this event supports the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. PCFA is a major sponsor of research into the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. I want my sons to have better diagnosis options and certainly better treatment options than those that were available to me.
To all the blokes on the wrong side of 45, next time you see your GP for a check-up, ask him/her to describe all the symptoms of the early stages of prostate cancer. If you think you are at risk, ask for a PSA blood test. I did, and it saved my life.