Family history of prostate cancer set to hit Australia hard
Experts are urging men to check their family history of prostate cancer, issuing a warning to health authorities that the growing number of new cases could be a ticking time bomb for Australia.
Professor Jeff Dunn AO, USQ Social and Behavioural Science and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) head, said without awareness and action, the burden of cancer would hold back Australia’s health and continue to claim the lives of about 3,500 Australian men every year.
“About 211,000 Australian men are alive today after a diagnosis of prostate cancer and 20,000 men will be newly diagnosed this year. By 2040, the number of survivors is forecast to increase by 76 per cent to nearly 372,000,” Professor Dunn said.
“All of their direct male relatives are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer. For those with two close male relatives impacted, the lifetime risk grows five-fold.
“It’s vital that men know their family history of prostate cancer and face the future armed with everything they need to know to beat it.”
To support research and awareness efforts tailored to Australian men, PCFA has launched the first in an ongoing series of Community Action Surveys via www.pcfa.org.au.
“I strongly encourage all men to jump online, take ten minutes of your time, and complete this survey – it could help to save your life,” Professor Dunn said.
“Men with a family history of breast and ovarian cancers, and especially those with a BRCA1 or 2 gene mutation, also face a higher risk of prostate cancer, placing tens of thousands of Australian men in the firing line of cancer within a generation.
“We simply must take action to support these men and their families, by arming them with information and providing necessary support.”
A recent joint study led by USQ cancer researcher and Cancer Council Queensland’s Associate Professor Nicholas Ralph found significant numbers of men have lower life satisfaction and experience long-term impairments to quality of life.
“Australia has one of the highest incidence rates of prostate cancer internationally, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed during their lifetime,” Professor Dunn said.
“Survival rates for prostate cancer are high, with over 95 per cent of men likely to survive at least five years, but we must keep up the pace of work to find better ways of preventing the disease and detecting it early, while ensuring that the 211,000 Australian men who have survived get the support they need for the distressing side effects and symptoms.
“Up to one in four men impacted by prostate cancer experience anxiety and up to one in five report depression, with an increased risk of suicide.
“We must transform the way Australia manages this insidious disease and provide hope for our fathers and sons,” Professor Dunn said.
See also "Patients suffer invasive treatments for harmless cancers" and the related article "Estimating the magnitude of cancer overdiagnosis in Australia", published in The Medical Journal of Australia.
21 May 2020.