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No one is bulletproof: Blood tests key to early detection of prostate cancer

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An increasing number of younger Australian men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer, but an advocacy group believes avoidable deaths can be eliminated within decades.

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More than 3500 men aged 59 or younger are diagnosed with the disease each year, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

“With concerted action we can eliminate avoidable deaths from prostate cancer in our lifetime,” CEO Anne Savage told AAP.

“We still have a very long way to go in overcoming the misconceptions that it’s an old man’s disease, that men die with it, not from it, and that it’s less lethal than other forms of cancer.

“Community action and awareness is key to prostate cancer survival.”

Having a blood test is one of the first steps younger men can take to work out whether they need further scans or a physical examination.

It’s used to detect a protein called PSA, which could indicate early signs of the disease.

Prostate cancer survivor Antony Banfield didn’t think he had the condition when his GP ordered the precautionary test in May 2021.

“It is the early detection that is the silver bullet,” he told AAP.

The result eventually led to further scans, diagnosis and surgery.

He urges any man who is told to get the blood test to act on the advice.

“You don’t really care about it until somebody says that you’ve got it,” he says.

“Make sure that you do take that piece of paper and … do the blood test rather than being bulletproof.”

About 24,000 Australian men are expected to be diagnosed with the condition this year, which is about 66 per day.

Fifteen per cent are expected to die from the disease.

A review is taking place into national guidelines on how the cancer should be treated.

Currently PSA blood tests are not used on men over 70, but that could change.

“The current guidelines for PSA testing are now six years out of date,” Savage said.

“New evidence shows us that men in that age bracket are being diagnosed in increasingly higher numbers with advanced, incurable disease.

“We know we can save their lives if it is detected early and treated effectively.”

 

 

 

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