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Prostate awareness on the increase

Australian men see prostate cancer as the most important health issue they face and rank the disease as one of the top-five community health issues, says a report from the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Released as part as of International Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, the Research, Awareness, Support: Ten Years of Progress in Prostate Cancer report showed that the disease was seen by Australian men aged 40 to 74 as the most critical one to face.

Figures from the report revealed that the percentage of men feeling informed about the disease has risen by 12 per cent, a sign that awareness is increasing. “We have invested a lot of resources into awareness-raising to ensure all Australians have a greater understanding of prostate cancer.

We are very pleased that our survey data shows that awareness is higher than ever,” said Dr Anthony Lowe, chief executive of PCFA.

More than half (55 per cent) of participants felt they knew a lot or a reasonable amount about prostate cancer testing. In addition, the percentage of participants who said they knew “nothing at all” about testing has halved from 27 per cent in 2002 to 11 per cent in 2012. However, nearly 40 per cent of respondents agreed that the advice about the usefulness of testing is still confusing.

Interestingly, despite public health and primary care recommendations against routine testing for prostate cancer, GPs were identified as the main influencers for prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing and digital rectal examinations (DRE).

“Based on the results we are now focused on developing Australia’s first national guidelines for PSA testing, expanding the PCFA affiliated Prostate Cancer Support Group Network, increasing awareness of the available support services amongst healthcare professionals and the wider community and conducting research into additional support services for partners and carers,” Lowe said.

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