Tim Mathieson owes us all an apology. He should apologise for apologising for his remarks about prostate cancer this week. Instead of apologising, what Tim Mathieson should have done was make like a tiny-handed Asian lady bum doctor, and lift a defiant middle finger in the direction of the narcs, whingers, screwed-up ideologues and craven opportunists who felt or feigned such burning indignation at his completely innocent little gag.
I am still trying to work out who was meant to be offended by his remark. Was it Asians? Was it women? Was it people with small hands?
Was he making a slight against the big-handed – apologies in advance to any sufferers of gigantism who might be reading this – or was he poking fun, so to speak, at those many men who have had to suffer the ignominy of an Ansell-gloved digit up the date?
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Every few months yet another article on the great big PSA testing controversy appears in the national media. Should men be tested? Do more men die with, not from, prostate cancer? Does the test do more harm than good? The debate goes on and on.
But what about Australian men - how are they supposed to decide what to do when the various medical colleges have radically different points of view? What about their GPs - what advice are they supposed to give to patients who ask about PSA testing?
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UPDATE: Dr Anthony Lowe, CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia comments “Prostate cancer is a serious health issue in Australia – 3,300 men die from prostate cancer each year – more than the number of women who die from breast cancer, which is why it is so important for men to be aware of their prostate health. Contrary to Lauren Tracey’s statements in this article, PCFA does not advocate for population-based screening for prostate cancer. We support the position of Australian Health Ministers’ Advisory Council and Cancer Council Australia which encourages men to talk to their doctor so that they can make an informed decision about prostate cancer testing. We recommend that all men over age 50, or over age 40 with a family history of prostate cancer, talk to their doctor about testing as part of their annual health check. We advocate that men should make an informed decision based on the latest available evidence about the benefits and potential harms of testing and treatment.”
Movember. It’s that time of year where the lads of Australia cast that razor blade aside for 30 days and embrace that Tom Selleck look, which for those who are too young to have lived through, is an era they can only dream about for the other 11 months of the year.
For the ladies, it’s a time when we can get behind this charity event for men. With so many events directed at raising support and money for breast cancer that enjoy support from our colleagues, sporting teams and family members, it seems only right that this is the month that we all become champions for men’s health.
And on the surface, the Movember foundation supports worthy causes. Beyond Blue does great work with mental health issues, as does the Prostate Foundation of Australia. But I don’t entirely support Movember. To clarify, I specifically don’t support the Prostate Foundation of Australia’s stance on population-based screening of all men for this disease. And I am not alone.
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“Raising awareness” is a catchcry for cancer events. Prostate cancer awareness is complicated like no other cancer by the mixed messages on early detection.
Urologists and pathologists urge men over 40 to get tested regularly; others in the clinical community involved in cancer screening advise men to make an informed choice about being tested, after discussing their family history and other personal concerns with their GPs.
Why the debate? Because there’s no screening test that adequately distinguishes between an early-stage prostate cancer that may lead to a patient’s death if untreated and a cancer that will do no harm in the patient’s lifetime.
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