Men fall behind in fight against cancer

17 August 2016


A leading Brisbane urologist is calling for men to be more aware of their health, especially when it comes to prostate cancer.  

Prostate cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in Australia, with a staggering one in seven Australian men being diagnosed in their lifetime.

Wesley Urology Clinic Urologist Dr John Yaxley said men needed to be proactive about their health and understand the importance of prostate cancer screening. More men die from prostate cancer than women die of breast cancer, he said.   

According to Cancer Australia, the estimated number of deaths from prostate cancer in 2016 is 3,398. Comparatively, breast cancer is expected to contribute to 3073 deaths this year.  

“Women are so proactive about their health, but men tend to neglect theirs,” Dr Yaxley said.

“The most important thing for men to know is that there’s often no signs or symptoms of early prostate cancer. Seeing the GP and talking about the potential benefit of prostate screening is a really important step.” 

Early detection was the best line of defense against aggressive prostate cancer, he said.

“If we can detect a potentially life threatening cancer early, there’s a better chance we can cure it. Improved radiological techniques including MRI scans have increased the chance of detecting a significant risk prostate cancer. We don’t know if you have a low risk or alternatively life threatening prostate cancer without screening."

Dr Yaxley is the lead author of the world’s first randomized trial comparing robot assisted laparoscopic radical prostatectomy to the traditional open surgical technique. The result of this study, recently published in the prestigious Lancet Journal, shows that the robotic surgery achieves the same oncological and functional outcomes as the traditional open approach, but was associated with less bleeding, less early pain, earlier discharge from hospital and improved early physical quality of life. The study also shows men who had robotic surgery were less emotionally distressed 12 weeks post-surgery than men who had an open procedure.

Dr Yaxley will be speaking on the panel at the 6th annual Gambaro Prostate Cancer Care Lunch in support of the Wesley Hospital, alongside Interventional Radiologist Dr Nick Brown, the Wesley’s dedicated Prostate Cancer Care Nurse Rachel Oxford and prostate cancer survivor David Salmon.

Dr Brown said the Wesley offered innovative imaging techniques such as multi-parametric MRI (mpMRI) and PSMA PET scans, for prostate cancer detection.

“These Australian firsts have been shown in world leading trials to significantly decrease the need for biopsies and increase the accuracy of the diagnosis of life-threatening prostate cancer,” Dr Brown said.

Ms Oxford provides men with the essential support, information and education they need throughout their prostate cancer journey.

“My role is about equipping and empowering the men so they can have the best treatment and recovery process possible,” Ms Oxford said.

Former Wesley patient David Salmon, general manager of RadioTAB, wants men to know that prostate cancer is not just an “old man’s disease”.

“There’s a mentality that prostate cancer is this disease that only affects old men, which is not true,” Mr Salmon said.

“Blokes under 50 need to get themselves checked, and their partners must understand that they have an important role to play too.”

The Wesley Hospital has the largest robotic surgery program in Australia, with over 800 procedures performed per annum. The hospital was the first private hospital in the country with two Da Vinci surgical robotic systems.

The Wesley Hospital is a leading provider of prostate cancer detection and treatment, with urologists, radiologists medical oncologists and radiation oncologists working together to provide evidence-based treatment on the one campus. These services are complemented by specialised nursing staff and a dedicated urology ward.

What:                           Gambaro Prostate Cancer Care Lunch in support of The Wesley Hospital

When:                          Noon to 3pm, Friday 26 August

Where:                         Gambaro Hotel, Caxton St

Tickets:                        Cost $120 for a three course lunch and beverages. Call 3369 9500 or email to book

Pictured: Urologist Dr John Yaxley operates the Da Vinci surgical robotic system.

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