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With #PladforDad fast approaching, Rocco Rossi, the president of Prostate Cancer Canada, shares with our blog readers some important facts and misconceptions about prostate cancer, in an exclusive interview.
With an affliction rate similar to breast cancer in women why isn't prostate cancer as disease not more mainstream or widely discussed?
Generally speaking, women are more open about their health than men. Whether it’s rooted in something social or physiological or a combination of the two, we don’t know, but women are much more likely to take proactive steps towards taking care of both their own health and the broader health issues facing women.
What do you think is the biggest aversion men have towards the issue of prostate cancer? Is it testing, a dislike of doctors in general, or something else?
I think it’s a difficult question with a very complex answer, but it’s also an important one we must explore in order to get more men talking about the most common cancer to affect them.
While reasons may range from fear and discomfort to ignorance and machismo, all men need to know that their best ally in the fight against prostate cancer is to catch it early.
When detected early, the survival rate for prostate cancer can be over 90%. That statistic alone should be reason enough for men to start doing a much better job of spreading the word and taking our health into our own hands.
Of those men who do pursue testing and fact gathering, how a big a role does their spouse play in the decision to take action?
Like with any disease, when a man is diagnosed with prostate cancer, that diagnosis is shared with family and friends. For that very reason, we feel it is imperative to be as inclusive as possible when spreading awareness and educating the public.
As we know, spouses, children, relatives, and friends can all play a big role in the decisions men make regarding our health. The more people who are informed and engaged, the more likely it is that men will get the push they might require to take action.
What do you believe should be taking placing in the battle to find a cure and save lives that presently is not?
As I mentioned previously, early detection is crucial to saving lives on the front end of things. While many cases of prostate cancer may never require treatment, many others will lead to death if they’re not caught and treated at an early stage.
In the former case, unnecessary treatment can be avoided using Active Surveillance, a method with Canadian origins that involves the close monitoring of non-aggressive tumors in the event that they do become aggressive and require treatment.
In the latter case, an aggressive tumor can be treated prior to spreading beyond the prostate and becoming much more difficult to treat.
In addition to early detection, Prostate Cancer Canada is funding research of the highest order to improve the way we diagnose, treat, and care for men living with prostate cancer and their families.
Examples include the development of genetic tests that can tell whether men are at risk of developing aggressive forms of prostate cancer based on certain inherited genes; drugs that provide a new last line of defence to men whose prostate cancer has become resistant to standard treatments; and evidence-based services and resources to support all those affected by prostate cancer throughout their journey.
Without the generous donations of Canadian individuals and organizations, we simply would not be able to fund these most important education and research initiatives.
The more support we receive, the better positioned we are to help save and improve the lives of men faced with prostate cancer and their families not only in Canada, but throughout the globe.
What do you believe is the biggest misconception about the disease?
The biggest misconception about prostate cancer is that it is an elderly man’s disease. While it is true the prevalence increases with age, I have met a number of men in their early 40s who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
It is for this reason that we recommend men talk to their doctors about their personal risk and consider getting a baseline PSA test at age 40.
For more information on prostate cancer screening and the pros and cons of PSA tests, we have developed the following resource for men: PSA test.
What are some of the short and long-term goals of Prostate Cancer Canada as an organization?
Our long- and short-term goals, simply stated, are to reduce mortality and improve quality of life associated with prostate cancer through education, research, advocacy and support.
Do you believe making prostate examination a mandatory component of the annual physical exams could save lives?
Screening-wise, Prostate Cancer Canada advocates for shared decision making and encourages men and their doctors to talk about the PSA test and then to make an informed decision together, factoring in risk factors that include family history, age, and ethnicity.