00:00 Saturday 16 May 2009  Written by Gilda Howard

Action Prostate Cancer celebrates 3rd anniversary

ACTION Prostate Cancer (an Irish Cancer Society initiative) celebrated its third anniversary when it launched its Prostate Cancer Awareness Week recently. Since its inception in April 2006, 10,000 people sought information and advice on prostate health, with 82% of those enquiries from men.

This illustrates that more than ever that men living in Ireland are taking positive action when it comes to their health, yet there are a still many who keep putting off going to their GP for this simple blood test which can point to the presence of prostate cancer, simply because they are afraid of being told that they have prostate cancer and they need treatment. A lot of different types of cancer can be cured if they are diagnosed in time and this also goes for prostate cancer which is one of the more curable ones if it is diagnosed in the early stages.

Speaking at the launch of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week 2009, Sonya Bowen (Prostate Cancer Information service Nurse), Irish Cancer Society, said: 'The key objective of Prostate Cancer Awareness Week will be to encourage men over 50 years to be more prostate aware, to open discussions about their risk of developing prostate cancer with their general practitioners, to consider the merits of screening and to call our Prostate Cancer Information Service (Freefone 1800 380 380) for advice, information and support.'

The latest data from the National Cancer Registry of Ireland states that 2,536 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in 2007. The National Registry also estimates that there will be a 275% increase in the incidence of prostate cancer by 2020, which means that 3,768 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2020. Sixty-nine per cent diagnosed with prostate cancer survive for five years or longer.

Johnny Giles launched Prostate Cancer Awareness Week 2009. Typical calls from undiagnosed men relate to a raised prostate specific antigen blood test that can point to the presence of prostate cancer. Some are also anxious about waiting times for tests and investigations and have questions on prostate cancer. On the other hand, typical calls from diagnosed men relate to treatment options, especially the merits of hormone treatment and/or quality of life issues related to the consequences of treatment.

Prostate Cancer Awareness Week comprised national radio advertising and public relations campaign and the publication of a new magazine Manhood, which is well worth reading.

A free DVD guide has also been produced specifically for patients with prostate cancer and features short video presentations on prostate cancer, treatment options, dietary advice, lifestyle tips, support and information. It is well worth getting and, again, you can obtain this by calling the Prostate Cancer Information Service.

For further information or to obtain your copy of Manhood or any other publications or factsheets on erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence and hormone therapy that are available from Action Prostate Cancer, please contact Freefone 1800 380 380 or email www.cancer.ie or via live cancer chat which is available at www.cancer.ie/chat (Monday to Thursday, 9am-7pm, Friday until 5pm).

While we are on the subject of men's health, testosterone deficiency is another condition too often brushed under the carpet, so it is time this was addressed too.

Men who feel they may have lost their 'lust for life' can take hope in a relatively new men's health awareness campaign which has been launched to highlight testosterone deficiency.

Testosterone deficiency is characterised by low levels of testosterone and is an under-diagnosed medical condition most common in men over 40. It is estimated that testosterone deficiency may occur in 8% of men in the 40-49 age group and occurs in a rising scale thereafter, affecting 12% of men in the 50-59 age group.

The good doctor tells us that testosterone deficiency can cause a variety of changes to your health both physical and emotional.

Some of the key symptoms associated with testosterone deficiency are tiredness, weight gain, loss of libido, feeling down, lack of energy, a decrease in strength and endurance. Ask yourself the following questions: Have you lost height? Have you noticed a decreased 'enjoyment of life'? Are you generally grumpy and out of sorts? Are erections less strong? Are you falling asleep after dinner? Has there been a recent deterioration in your work performance?

According to Dr. Peter Wahlrab, GP from Kells, Co. Kildare: 'Approximately 6% of Irish men are deficient in testosterone; however, very few are aware of their diagnosis. Traditionally many men accept these symptoms are part of the ageing process; however, for some, the symptoms are so severe that they can alter a person's quality of life. I would encourage men to visit www.lustforlife.ie and if they recognise several of the symptoms listed on the site, to seek a follow-up consultation with their GP.'

Testosterone deficiency is treated by administering testosterone, which is available in a number of forms including a colourless, odourless gel or an injection. Once a diagnosis of low testosterone has been made (following a clinical assessment at your GP's surgery) the testosterone treatment can begin. Studies have demonstrated improved levels of overall wellbeing with testosterone replacement.

Recent studies reveal that Irish men are reluctant to visit their GP, as they don't believe their symptoms are serious enough to warrant treatment. However, if the correct diagnosis is considered to be TD, treatment is proven to reduce the symptoms of testosterone deficiency and return testosterone levels to normal levels. Investigations have found that testosterone therapy results in restored levels of sexual interest, body and muscle mass, bone density, mood and more energy.

For more information and a checklist of symptoms you can visit www.lustforlife.ie or speak to your GP for advice.

SWINE

Swine influenza is another topic very much in the news over the last few weeks. So far in Ireland there has been only one case and that particular person had returned from Mexico, but he was diagnosed and treated quickly, so fortunately he got a light form of swine flu' and was up and allowed out for walks in and around his home soon after.

What it amounts to really is that anyone concerned that they may have developed flu-like symptoms while in or returning from an infected area should contact their GP by phone. These individuals can then be tested as a precautionary measure if deemed necessary.

Apart from all that it was also confirmed that the HSE's surveillance has been stepped up around the country following the announcement by World Health Organisation that the level of 'world preparedness' has moved from level 3 to level 4 on its pandemic chart. Guidance has been issued to hospital clinicians and GPs in relation to sending tests to the National Viral Reference Laboratory. Health workers have also been asked to report clusters of flu' or respiratory infections either in members of the public or health workers and plans are in place around the country regarding distribution arrangements for vaccines.

Hopefully it will not come to that. I heard on the news the other night that the numbers getting the swine influenza in Mexico seem to be diminishing, so this is a good sign. When 'bird flu' broke out I was more worried that they could transmit it by flying from one country to the other. At least pigs can't fly!

Last but not least and on a pretty note! Three high-profile fashionistas have gone pretty in pink for Action Breast Cancer.

RTÉ beauties well-known for their on-screen success and off-screen style are the first to get their hands on Eurostyle's new range of accessories, which are this season's 'must have' for any style-conscious lady. Recently Anne Cassin, Claudia Carroll and Caroline Morahan were dressed in shades of cherry, crimson and cerise, modelling Eurostyle's new range of black and pink accessories.

Eurostyle have produced an exclusive range of black and pink accessories bearing the pink ribbon logo that no 'on trend' lady can be without; sleek fold-up shopping bag, chic black umbrella and the perfect pocket-size pack of tissues. These items will be sold in all 17 Superquinn stores across the country, in 1,400 independent pharmacies and through various independent newsagents and hospital shops.

Process from sales of these products will be channelled into Action Breast Cancer breast awareness initiatives and the development of services for women with breast cancer.

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