‘Disappearing Dave’ highlights prostate problems

It’s Men’s Health Week (June 12-18)… and prostate health is on the agenda

A new prostate awareness campaign is urging men not to become a “Disappearing Dave”.

The campaign, highlighting Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia, emphasises the need for health care professionals to trigger more frequent prostate health discussions with at-risk patients, says Associate Professor Manish Patel, a Sydney-based urologist.

The campaign is hoped to encourage more men to talk to health professionals about urinary symptoms caused by an enlarged prostate.

It features Dave, who frequently interrupts daily activities by needing to go and urinate.

One in three Australian men aged over 50 have an enlarged prostate, which is approximately 1.2 million men in today’s population. Other symptoms of the condition include having to urinate more than once a night, a weak stream and dribbling.

Two-thirds of men presenting to GP clinics with Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) have BPH. For the men with BPH, the majority are suffering from moderate to severe LUTS.

“While BPH is not a life threatening condition, we know it has a major impact on quality of life,” says A/Prof Patel.

“The severity of LUTS may be reduced by initiating treatment in men at risk of disease progression, better educating the patient about the condition and recommending lifestyle changes like increasing physical activity.”

The campaign is sponsored by GSK.

Meanwhile, cancer experts and patient advocacy groups are using Men’s Health Week to highlight the issue that many Australian men diagnosed with prostate cancer are not being fully informed of all available treatment options – especially the alternatives to prostate surgery.

This problem exists in spite of dramatic advances in radiation therapy and a growing body of evidence demonstrating radiation therapy and surgery have equal cure rates and overall similar quality of life, they say.

Recent publications show radiation therapy has overall lower rates of long term urinary incontinence and sexual side effects, yet it continues to be under-used as an alternative to surgery for prostate cancer treatment.

Many men who would be ideal candidates for non-invasive radiation therapy don’t receive all the information needed for decision-making before the prostate is removed.

“Each person diagnosed with cancer needs to be given information from every clinician to be able to make their decision with full knowledge of the treatment path and the known side effects from each option,” says Executive Committee Member for patient advocacy group Cancer Voices, Lee Hunt.

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