Men’s Health Week: Routine prostate check saves Brian Anstey’s life | The Courier


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PROSTATE cancer offered no symptoms or warning signs for Brian Anstey until one day, after three years, tests showed it had rapidly emerged. Brian had three cancers in his prostate and said he was fortunate the cancer had not burst through the prostate wall. It was in a routine prostate specific antigen test, better known as a PSA, that the cancer was detected early and closely monitored with blood tests and biopsies before it grew and Brian needed surgery. Brian said the initial PSA test saved his life and, effectively his quality of life. Ballarat urologist Lachlan Dodds is urging men in the region to remind their general practitioners for a prostate check. The latest Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia data shows the survival rate for Ballarat men with prostate cancer beyond five years (76 per cent) is clear below the Australian average (83 per cent). Figures show Ballarat men are also less likely to ask their GP for a prostate check and, as such, Ballarat men were twice as likely than fellow Australians to present with more advanced disease. Dr Dodds, who sits on the prostate cancer observational registry, said these were concerning numbers but national Men’s Health Week was a good annual reminder. Prostate cancer was the second highest cause of cancer death in Australian men, behind lung cancer. “No doubt COVID had an impact on prostate cancer tests but I think the message in the community has still been falling on deaf ears a little bit,” Dr Dodds said. “Mention it to your GP and get a test done.” Brian said he knew a lot of men were reticent to get a prostate check. For others the idea of a biopsy was off-putting, even though Ballarat is home to the first, less-invasive transperineal biopsy machine in an Australian public hospital. For Brian, these procedures were an important part of life and being able to live life to the fullest. As men age, Brian said it became increasingly common to know a friend who had put off a test or ignored the signs and found themselves in a far tougher situation. One friend had dismissed and put up with bad back pain, not realising it was prostate cancer until the disease proved too far advanced and was terminal. Brian wants men to know they can face prostate cancer and keep a good quality of life, including a good sex life, and especially if they can approach life with humour. He said the prostate care team in Ballarat had been quick to put him at ease and he lost all embarrassment when talking about sex and continence and how to best approach both. IN OTHER NEWS Brian found Pilates was vital for him in staying fit before and after surgery, particularly when it came to maintaining strong pelvic floors. “Being a hero means nothing if you can’t be there for anyone – if you’re dead,” Brian said. “There is an incredible amount of help and education for men to make the most out of their lives.” Meanwhile, Ballarat optometrist Dean Binns is calling on men in the region to get back in the habit of regular eye checks. New research from Specsavers has found 43 per cent of men, or more than 21,000 men in Ballarat, would wait until they had a health issue before booking an optometry check. Victorian men wait two weeks on average after experiencing an eye injury or issue before booking an eye check. “Most eye conditions can be easily managed or treated especially if it’s picked up early, it’s when things are left that it can get more complicated,” Mr Binns said. “We’re talking about our eyes here and we only have one set of them, so we need to remember to look after them, whether that’s wearing protective eye gear while doing home maintenance projects or whether it’s seeing an optometrist when we have a problem.” If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat’s story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.


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