Bruce caught by cancer, then he caught cancer out
WIANGAREE general store owner Bruce Wilson counts himself lucky he was diagnosed with prostate cancer before it threatened his life.
The 64-year old has blood tests every six months in line with his blood pressure medication, and those routine tests may have saved his life.
Earlier this year the tests picked up on an elevated prostate-specific antigen level (PSA), which suggested his prostate was cancerous.
The routine level of PSA for men is 4%, but Mr Wilson's test revealed a level of 18%.
"I never had any indication that I had trouble with my prostate, and I wouldn't have known unless I had this blood test," he said.
Following a biopsy, it emerged the entire right-hand side of Mr Wilson's prostate was cancerous.
Fortunately, the cancer was still encapsulated, which meant it was confined to the prostate and still operable.
Last week, Mr Wilson came out of hospital following the operation with a comforting all-clear from the post-op tests.
Now he's on a mission to encourage all men to regularly get their prostate checked.
"I was very lucky," Mr Wilson said, adding he now reckoned every man over 40 should have regular blood tests to check their PSA level.
More than 21,000 Australian men were diagnosed with prostate cancer at last count in 2009, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the country, except non-melanoma skin cancers.
It is also the fourth leading cause of death for Australian men, with just under 3300 deaths from prostate cancer in 2011, according to figures from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Fortunately, mortality rates have also fallen, from 34 deaths down to 31 deaths per 100,000 males between 1982 and 2011, and are expected to fall to 26 deaths per 100,000 males in 2020.
Prostate cancer takes seven years to kill, so many men die with it, not from it.
That fact may be a hindrance to men getting regular check-ups, but Mr Wilson said that had to change.
"If it's caught early it's totally curable - but if it's not caught early it will kill you."