Judith O’Malley-Ford. MBBS (Qld), MPH, JP(Q), FRACGP
Prostate cancer does not stand alone as a disease affecting an individual. It has an impact on whole families and the circle of friends of each individual affected by the disease. This of course could be said of anyone diagnosed with cancer. It is times like this that the cancer victims and their families benefit and need the support from their wider circle of friends and family. We forget that women have an interest in prostate cancer too. And why shouldn’t women be vitally interested in this subject? As an interested outsider in the area of prostate cancer, I have still none the less witnessed the experience of prostate cancer in a family.
My interest is several fold. I’m a General Practitioner of some years, more years than I care to admit and I too have an interest in prostate cancer, or more generally men’s health. Why you might ask? And I say why not, indeed. My father had prostate cancer. I also have many male family members, and a husband. It is one of the most commonly occurring cancers and akin to breast cancer for women, a common medical complaint, but suffers from a less prominent public profile in the community compared to breast cancer.
Someone made the comment recently, that if a disease like prostate cancer was threatening an endangered wildlife species there would be a public outcry, and Greenpeace would be patrolling the waters and making their presence felt. Prostate disease deserves the same level of importance in health promotion.
The more you read and research about prostate cancer, the more you realise that there is much research happening in the field of prostate cancer. And the more you read, the more you realise that there are so many things that we still don’t understand. So we are only beginning to peel back the outer layers of knowledge on the subject in the hope of finding the solutions within.
Men not infrequently complain of insufficient time to attend to their health, and in particular finding the time in a busy day to visit and maintain a regular attendance with a local doctor. There is nothing however like a face to face consultation with your own doctor who can add that extra personal touch to address your own health needs.
To place the issues of men’s health into perspective, it is also necessary to address the more general issues of a healthy lifestyle. These factors include good diet, regular exercise, healthy weight parameters, adequate good quality sleep, moderation in alcohol, cessation of smoking, and monitoring of blood pressure, cholesterol, stress management, and prostate screening. Monitoring for men over 50 years of age or commencing at an earlier age for men with a family history of prostate problems is essential. Erection problems may occur for men at any age, but the likelihood increases with increasing age, when it is more likely to indicate the presence of another perhaps unidentified underlying health issue.