This Father’s Day, take a moment to chat with the men in your life about prostate cancer - which tops the list of missing cancers.
Prostate cancer is now Australia’s most common cancer, recently overtaking breast cancer. It also tops of the list of cancers that experts fear have gone undetected as a result of the pandemic.
Since early 2020, the Victorian Cancer Registry has noticed a shortfall in cancer diagnoses compared to historic trends.
Of the now 7,000 missing cancer diagnoses, most involve men and prostate cancer accounts for 40% (2,800) of the undetected cases.
“We’d love to say we’ve seen this big drop in diagnoses because there’s less cancer overall in the community but, sadly, we know it’s a drop in detection not in cases,” says Professor Declan Murphy Director of Genito-Urinary Oncology at Peter Mac.
“That means we know there are many thousands of men out there in the community today, who should have been diagnosed with prostate cancer over the past two years, but who haven’t."
Prof Murphy says these are typically healthy men in their 60s and 70s who perhaps missed out on that usual check up with their GP because of lockdowns.
It is thought the added difficulty seeing a GP during the pandemic compounded the long-standing issue of men being more reluctant to see their doctor.
“It’s a problem of under-diagnosis and also later-diagnosis, as we’re also seeing people arrive at centres like Peter Mac with more advanced cancers needing more intensive treatments," Prof Murphy also says.
“We really need to find these men so that they don’t miss the boat and end up with advanced cancer.”
Of the 7,000 cancer cases missing from the Victorian Cancer Registry during the pandemic:
- Two-thirds are men, and older people (aged 50 to 74 years) account more than half of cases
- Prostate cancer, followed by melanoma, have seen the sharpest declines in diagnoses
- Head and neck cancer diagnoses are also down likely due to fewer people seeing their dentist, which is a common point of detection
This Father’s Day as you reach out to the men in your life, find a way to mention the problem of Victoria's missing cancers.
“When you call dad to tell him you love him, it’s a great time to also ask if he’s been to his GP recently,” Prof Murphy also says.
“Or to any dads or men out there who perhaps put-off seeing the doc about a health concern, or missed a standard check-up or test, now is the time to get these issues properly checked out.”
Prostate cancer symptoms can include frequent urination, weak or interrupted urine flow or need to strain to empty the bladder, urge to urinate frequently at night, blood in the urine, new onset of erectile dysfunction.