Growing the mo for a month of men's health during Movember 2018

Surprise diagnosis: Tony Cameron, 41, of Illawong, recently discovered he had prostate cancer. He is urging other men his age and older, to get checked. Picture: Chris Lane
Surprise diagnosis: Tony Cameron, 41, of Illawong, recently discovered he had prostate cancer. He is urging other men his age and older, to get checked. Picture: Chris Lane

Each year on the dot, Tony Cameron would never miss a regular check-up at his GP.

But this year when he was getting his usual blood test, he did not expect to find out he had prostate cancer.

“I never missed an annual check-up,” he said. “I’d always kept on top of it because I also had borderline high cholesterol and high blood pressure, and because I’m now 40, they say that’s when they start to look for it.”

The blood test was accidentally ordered by the GP – and good that it was, because it came back detecting an abnormality, which led to the surgical removal of Mr Cameron’s prostate.

His father, who was also treated by the same surgeon, Professor Paul Cozzi, was diagnosed with prostate cancer about 10 years ago.

Apart from common skin cancers, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men, with about 18,000 new cases every year.

It is typically diagnosed in men aged 60–79 but if a man’s father or brother has been diagnosed, the risk is twice as high.

While less common in men under 50, men aged above 40 are at particular risk of developing prostate cancer later in life if their prostate specific antigen (PSA) test results are above the 95th percentile. 

Mr Cameron is now urging other men – especially young men, to get regular blood tests, ahead the Movember campaign, which advocates for men’s health by encouraging blokes to grow a moustache to raise awareness.

“It’s such a simple test,” he said. ‘The cancer is quite slow growing but can be aggressive.

“My doctor is confident the surgery went well but I’m also getting physio to strengthen my muscles so it helps my recovery.”

Sans Souci Physiotherapy, where Mr Cameron is getting treatment, is hosting a Movember event on November 12.

“Our youngest patient with prostate cancer is 35 years old and our oldest is over 90, so cancer definitely does not discriminate,” physio director Annette Rich said.

Two upcoming medical researchers from the University of NSW recently received awards for their studies in prostate cancer, having carried out research at St George & Sutherland Clinical School.

Evan Cheng received the ‘best presentation’ prize at the 2018 St George and Sutherland Medical Research symposium.

The fourth-year undergraduate medical student spoke about his investigation of the role of FABP5 – a protein in prostate cancer radioresistance. 

“Many patients tend to relapse – about 40 per cent, and my research looked at why that’s happening,” he said.

“I was looking into the function of the protein and how it heavily links to radioresistance. If we are able to develop a drug that silences the protein or knocks it down, we may be improve these rates.”

Ying Zhu won first prize for her study into early detection of prostate cancer.

The early career postdoctoral fellow’s research focused on developing new nanoscale devices for capture and analysis of biomarkers for cancer diagnostics.

Dr Zhu studied light interference in association to cancer cell detection in a patient’s blood. 

Next generation of medical scientists: Ying Zhu carried out research into prostate cancer detection.

Next generation of medical scientists: Ying Zhu carried out research into prostate cancer detection.

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