Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

As published in La Fiamma, L’Angollo della Terza Eta, 7/10/2013

September was a busy month for health awareness campaigns. In addition to World Alzheimer’s Month, September was also prostate cancer month.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia  excluding non- melanoma cancer) and the third most common cause of cancer death. It is more common in older men, with 85% of cases diagnosed in men over 65 years of age.

One in five men are at risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85.

Symptoms and diagnosis

When Paolo started to get up every hour at night to go to the bathroom, his wife Anna began to get worried. When Paolo noticed blood in his urine, he became worried too. Anna made an urgent appointment with their local doctor and Paolo finally submitted himself to the medical check- up and tests that he had been putting off for years.

In its early stages, prostate cancer may not show any symptoms. Symptoms of early prostate cancer can include: difficulty passing urine; a slow, interrupted flow of urine; frequent passing of urine, including at night; and urinary incontinence.

Symptoms associated with advanced prostate cancer include: blood in urine; pain during urination; and lower back or pelvic pain. The disease can sometimes spread to the bones and cause pain or unexplained weight loss and fatigue.

Some of these symptoms are also found in men who may have non- cancerous enlargement of the prostate gland. If a man experiences any of these symptoms, he should visit his doctor.

There is no single, simple test to detect prostate cancer.

Initial diagnosis is made by a doctor via physical examination of the prostate gland and a blood test. Further tests are often required to determine the stage of cancer and aggressiveness of the disease. Bone and CT scans are used to determine the spread of the disease.


The risk of prostate cancer rises with age, increasing rapidly over 50 years. If there is a family history of prostate cancer, this increases the chances of a man developing the disease. There has been some association with a diet high in fats and low in fresh fruit and vegetables. Men of African descent are at higher risk than men of European descent, and there is an association with high testosterone levels.


There are no proven measures to prevent prostate cancer.


Low- grade disease confined to the prostate may be monitored by a doctor if not causing symptoms.

In more serious cases, surgery may be required. This entails removal of the prostate gland. The main side- effects are impotence and incontinence. Radical radiotherapy may also be required. Side- effects are similar to surgery, however bowel problems may also occur.

For widespread disease, hormone therapy and chemotherapy may also be necessary.


An individual’s prognosis depends on the type and stage of cancer, as well as their age and general health at the time of diagnosis. Nearly all patients who present with localised disease will live beyond five years. 93% of men survive for ten years after diagnosis and 77% up to 15 years.

Reduce your risk

The Cancer Council factsheets state that there are seven simple steps you can take to reduce your cancer risk:

  • Quit smoking
  • Eat for health
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Be SunSmart
  • Limit alcohol
  • Move your body
  • Get checked by a doctor

For more information, contact the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20 (cost of a call). If you would like to speak to some one about cancer in your own language you can connect to the Cancer Council Helpline through an interpreter. Simply follow these steps:

1. Call 13 14 50, Monday to Friday 9am- 5pm

2. Say the language you need- Italian

3. Wait on the line for an interpreter (may take up to 3 minutes)

4. Ask the interpreter to call the Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20

5. Talk to the Cancer Council Helpline with the help of your interpreter.

The Cancer Council NSW provides information in different languages. To access information in Italian go to For more information about prostate cancer go to:

Prostate Awareness Month in Italian