Prostate cancer diagnosis has reached a crisis point.
It is now the most common cancer diagnosed in Australia, overtaking breast cancer as the country's leading cause of cancer.
To make matters worse, testing guidelines are based on outdated data and are likely contributing to the deaths of an increasing number of men.
New data by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates 24,217 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, compared to 20,640 women diagnosed with breast cancer. That's a 34 per cent increase on previous year and a call to action for all Australians. For many men, this news comes as no surprise, confirming the growing number of cases they have seen among men in their community.
For PCFA, this news confirms what we have been saying for some time - that prostate cancer is among the most significant challenges facing men's health in Australia, and simply cannot be ignored any longer by policy makers and practitioners who do not realise the significant toll the disease takes on our lives.
Prostate cancer accounts for more hospitalisations than any other type of cancer in the country.
This data provides further justification for an urgent review of the nation's Clinical Guidelines for PSA Testing, which measures prostate-specific antigen levels in the bloodstream.
The fact is existing guidelines are now six years old and based on outdated data. We hold grave fears they are putting men's lives at risk, with 66 men now being diagnosed every day and more than 3500 men expected to die from prostate cancer this year - a toll we can avoid if the disease is diagnosed early.
PCFA surveys have found three in every four Australians do not know about or understand the PSA test guidelines and it is this that impedes early detection and diminishes population-wide survival prospects.
There are major concerns about the nation's capacity to provide best-practice care for the growing number of men being diagnosed with the killer disease. Nationally, we have seen a fourfold increase in the proportion of men waiting for more than a year for a prostatectomy, with nearly 1 in 10 patients waiting 12 months or longer in areas where incidence and referrals are higher, as is the case in NSW.
MyHospitals website data shows that 50 per cent of men diagnosed with prostate cancer in NSW had to wait more than 10 weeks for surgery, which is clearly a sign of a health system facing severe stress.
We cannot afford to underestimate the impact this will have on our health services, knowing that prostate cancer accounts for more hospitalisations than any other type of cancer in the country.
Investing now in the restoration of services and staff is urgently needed to ensure safe, timely, and effective care. Without immediate action Australia will be confronted by an increase in excess avoidable deaths from prostate cancer. Our population is ageing and increasing, which means more and more men are being diagnosed with prostate cancer every year.
A review of the Clinical Guidelines for PSA Testing is urgently needed to ensure we triage patients appropriately and diagnose prostate cancers before they spread outside the prostate.
The consequences if we don't could be catastrophic for thousands of men at risk of being bottlenecked in a health system that is not coping with the service pressures of the post-COVID period.
More broadly, this is a call to action for all Australians.
Over the past 26 years PCFA has played an important role in vastly expanding our efforts on all fronts of research, awareness, and support. Today, we set our sights on now and tomorrow, that no man may die before his time. You can expect us to act on this news with great resolve, in concert with Prostate Cancer Support Groups Australia-wide.
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