Prostate Cancer 101

Prostate Cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in Men, affecting approximately 1 in 6 men during their lifetimes. Despite this, it remains rather invisible and research is still significantly underfunded as compared to other cancers. It occurs even more commonly than Breast Cancer, and with similar mortality rates, but it has a much lower public profile. Awareness Groups like Prostate Cancer Canada Brampton, to which I belong, work to try and change the public's awareness of the disease but as of yet only a small number of media and corporate sponsors are willing to get on board and help with the cause.

With early detection, Prostate Cancer can often be treated quite successfully. Surgery, Brachytherapy and Radiation Therapy all exhibit excellent results when the cancer is found at an early stage. It still remains however, one of the major causes of cancer deaths in Men. This is due to a number of factors. Too often, men do not present significant symptoms until the disease is fairly advanced. PSA tests, which can often detect the possibility of Prostate Cancer, are not funded under OHIP and are not always promoted by family physicians. The PSA test should be a standard test for all men over 40 and certainly for those with either a family history or racial indicators for the disease. In the latest Ontario Government decision, only those with either a cancer diagnosis or with high genetic risk factors will have their PSA tests paid for.

Long before my own diagnosis and treatment for Prostate Cancer I had already had a lot of experience dealing with the disease. As a university student with medical aspirations, I worked both summers and week-ends as an assistant in a Urology Ward at the Toronto East General Hospital. I worked with a number of excellent Urologists including Drs. Bill Ortved, Mel Sutton, Bill Ainslie and Bill Forder. Dr. Forder was the youngest of the group and someone I thought might have still be practicing when I went to my own Urologist to get the results of my Biopsy. After the less than wonderful news, I brought up the subject of Dr. Forder to see if my Doctor knew him. As it turns out he did, however he told me that Dr. Forder had died recently from advanced Prostate Cancer. Just the news you need at a time like that.

So began my personal journey with the disease, one that I have been told that I may have beaten but that suggestion never completely leaves you all that confident, as a recurrence is always a possibility. Thankfully, Prostate Cancer does leave a calling card if it returns and that calling card is an elevated PSA test. For those of us that have been diagnosed with Prostate Cancer, that test is now free, but for the majority of the population, it is still an out of pocket expense. To make things worse, some family physicians still seem reluctant to advise their patients to even have the test. While the PSA test is far from perfect, it is still one of the few early indicators of Prostate Cancer and an early diagnosis is still the best aid to treatment.

That is where events like “Crusin’ For A Cure Canada” come in, to help raise awareness of both Prostate Cancer and the need for regular PSA testing. PCCN Brampton funds these tests at the event at a cost of about $30 per test. If we can’t get the Ontario Government to pay for these tests, as they should, then hopefully we can get a few more corporate sponsors to help cover the cost. If you have any ideas to help in this area please contact:

Jim Dorsey, Cruisin' for a Cure Coordinator, (905) 453-3038, or e-mail: jim.dorsey@pccnbrampton.com

For further information on Prostate Cancer visit the PCCN Brampton web-site: http://www.pccnbrampton.com