Maitland MP Jenny Aitchison is calling on Maitland men to make time for prostate cancer screening, particularly if there is a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancers among the women in their lives.
Ms Aitchison’s family has a history of the mutated BRCA gene. She has supported several loved ones during their battle with the illness and is herself a breast cancer survivor.
“Men whose family histories show the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations, which increase a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers, are at greater risk of prostate cancer,” Ms Aitchison said.
“While all men over 50 are encouraged to have their prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels tested, men who have multiple relatives on the same side of their families with prostate, breast and/or ovarian cancers should be tested earlier.
“Men whose fathers or brothers have had prostate cancer are at twice the risk of other men.”
Ms Aitchison said that few people realised that more men died from prostate cancer each year than women who lost their lives to breast cancer. As a mother of two – a daughter and a son – she is committed to raising awareness about the genetic link.
“I’ve had breast cancer so it’s natural for people to ask whether my daughter is also at risk,” Ms Aitchison said. “But few people realise that I am equally concerned for my son.”
Ms Aitchison said recent statistics showing a decline in prostate cancer detections in the Hunter were alarming as they indicated that men were not being diagnosed.
“The risk of prostate cancer increases with age; in fact, one in six men could develop it by the age of 85. But the most aggressive forms of the disease strike younger men, particularly those aged 40 to 55.”
For more information about prostate cancer, contact The Hunter Prostate Cancer Awareness and Support Group, which meets at the Maryland Multipurpose Centre at 207 Maryland Drive, Maryland, at 2pm on the second Tuesday of each month.