MEN'S HEALTH: Prostate surgery expert Dr Peter Swindle.
MEN'S HEALTH: Prostate surgery expert Dr Peter Swindle.

Don't wait! Expert warns men to be prostate proactive

ONE in eight men aged over 65 are being diagnosed with prostate cancer which is the third most common cancer diagnosed in Australia.

Prostate cancer surgical specialist, urologist Dr Peter Swindle, said generally there are no symptoms for this cancer.

"If you've got symptoms you've missed the boat," he said.

"The symptoms men get with urinating are due to an enlarged, benign prostate, not cancer."

So, what it comes down to is getting tested, and regularly.

Dr Swindle strongly recommends all men over 50 should ask their GP for a PSA blood test and rectal examination.

"Men should have a PSA and probably a rectal exam on a yearly basis from the age of 50," he said.

"If there is a family history, they should get it from the age of 40 and find out their baseline PSA which will determine if they need to be tested yearly or five-yearly."

The Cancer Council of Australia reports other prostate cancer risk factors are increasing age, family history of prostate or breast or ovarian cancer, a diet high in fats and low in fresh fruit and vegetables, having African descent and possibly high testosterone levels.

For those men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer Dr Swindle said there are several management options.

"For some men, we do nothing," he said.

"If they are elderly with significant medical problems and they have a low-risk prostate cancer, we conduct active surveillance, as they have more chance of dying with the cancer than from it.

"Then there is radiotherapy which is where we send radiotherapy waves through the skin, muscle, fat and bone to irradiate the prostate."

The third option is brachytherapy. This is also radiotherapy, but with a twist. In this procedure, radioactive seeds are implanted into the prostate.

The final option is surgical removal of the prostate.

"There two ways to do the surgery; open surgery where you make a cut on the abdomen and remove the prostate, and robotic prostatectomy which is keyhole or minimally invasive surgery." Dr Swindle said.

"The majority of the operations, about 60 to 70%, are now performed using the robotic technique."

Dr Swindle, who performed Queensland's first procedure, now focuses solely diseases of the prostate and specifically prostate cancer.

"It's a slave/master device with the surgeon controlling the robot's very sensitive controls, and the robot moves," he described.

"It's very accurate as there are two cameras at the end of the telescopic arm so you can get 3D depth perception.

"The robot is very intuitive. The way in which you move your hand and fingers is the way the instruments move in the patient."

Dr Swindle reminds all men over 50 to be proactive and get tested.

"Also, know your PSA level," he added.

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