27 July 2020


Alarming new research has revealed about 70 per cent of Australians don’t know the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, prompting Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to call for greater public investment in targeted community awareness activities.

The findings have been reported in the Not All Prostate Cancer is the Same report, released by the Prostate Cancer Patient Coalition – Asia Pacific (PCPC).

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said the research was a call to action.

“With a growing Australian population and increasing life expectancy, the number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will continue to increase,” he said.

“It’s vitally important that we do more to improve awareness of the disease and raise understanding of options for early detection and treatment, while supporting survivors with the long-term side effects of their illness.”

The report is based on first-of-its-kind patient perception research just published in the British Journal of Urology International (BJUI) and developed by the Coalition, which includes PCFA as the lead organisation for Australia.

“The detailed findings suggest that low awareness of the different stages of prostate cancer and available management options at each stage of the disease can adversely impact each patient’s ability to make informed decisions about their care,” Professor Dunn said.

“Concerningly, right across the Asia Pacific region, recognition of prostate cancer symptoms is extremely poor, whereby up to nine in ten men do not know the symptoms of prostate cancer before they are diagnosed.

“In the Australian context, 70 per cent of men did not know the symptoms and 67 per cent of men reported unmet needs for information on prostate cancer prior to their diagnosis, saying they wished they had known more about it.

“Of particular concern, only 13 per cent of the Australian men surveyed said they knew how to distinguish between the different stages of prostate cancer, a lack of understanding that can be detrimental to early diagnosis and effective care.”

While 53 per cent of Australian men surveyed indicated their doctor provided in-depth information on the stages of prostate cancer at diagnosis, many reported feeling overwhelmed at the time and unable to recall the information provided.

PCPC Co-Chair and Clinical Urologist at the Japan Community Health Care Organization and Tokyo Shinjuku Medical Center, Dr Koichiro Akakura, said the incidence of prostate cancer in the Asia Pacific has increased over the past few decades.

“Incidence of prostate cancer is expected to almost double by 2030 in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.

“These findings clearly demonstrate that we have a long way to go if we want to raise awareness of prostate cancer to the same level we see in breast cancer, where increased awareness has had a significantly positive impact on diagnosis rates and overall survival.”

PCPC Co-Chair and Clinical Professor of Urology at the University of Melbourne, Department of Surgery and Head of Austin Urology Unit, Professor Damien Bolton, said it was the first time that the disparity in levels of knowledge and support across the Asia Pacific region had been quantified.

“This patient perception research has uncovered significant differences in the experiences of prostate cancer patients across the region and highlighted just how important it is that we improve levels of knowledge and understanding of the symptoms and disease stages of prostate cancer if we want to improve early detection and ultimately impact patient outcomes in the Asia Pacific region,” he said.

“The report clearly shows that a significant number of men with prostate cancer experience delays in their diagnosis due to their limited understanding of prostate cancer symptoms,” he said.

It’s a finding that has prompted Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s CEO to step up calls for a review of the PSA Test Guidelines and increased public funding for targeted prostate cancer awareness campaign.

“By 2040 we predict there will be 372,000 men living with or beyond prostate cancer in Australia, representing a 76 per cent increase from 211,000 today and the greatest number of men or women diagnosed with any single cancer.

“Without investment in new campaigns to reach men at risk, many thousands of men face the risk of late diagnosis with advanced disease, with unacceptably poor prospects for survival.

“Of concern to the growing burden of prostate cancer on the Australian community, men with a family history of prostate cancer have double the risk of being diagnosed, and men in regional and rural areas of Australia face a 24 per cent higher risk of death – investment in awareness is vital to ensure our fathers and sons don’t die before their time.”

Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed by age 85.

Professor Dunn said PCFA had written to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to seek public funding support for a review of Australia’s current PSA Test Guidelines and public awareness activity.

“For Aussie blokes with a family history of prostate cancer, knowing your risks and screening options is key.

“The current guidelines were published in 2016 and remain highly controversial and poorly understood by the majority of Australians.

“A recent PCFA survey found that 75 per cent of Australians do not know the guidelines, an alarmingly high level of unawareness that impedes early detection and diminishes population-wide survival prospects.”

According to Professor Dunn, it is a disease that also takes a heavy toll on men’s mental health.

“About one in five men with prostate cancer experience long-term anxiety and depression and some will have an increased risk of suicide, although few seek support for their mental health needs.

“Few Australians realise exactly how tough it is to live with a diagnosis of prostate cancer.

“It’s common for patients to struggle with understanding their treatment options and many are unable to access evidence-based information about the pros and cons of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment or hormonal therapy. It’s a tragic fact that on any given day men with prostate cancer are already at a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide compared to the general population.

“Every 25 minutes, one of our fathers, sons or friends will hear the news he has prostate cancer – these men deserve our support,” he said.

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia has written to the Federal Health Minister to request public funding for a review of the Guidelines and a new public awareness campaign for at-risk men.


  1. Chen R, Ren S, Yiu MK, et al. (2014) Prostate cancer in Asia: A collaborative report, Asian Journal of Urology, 1, 15-29.
  2. Akakura K, Bolton D, Grillo V, Mermod N. (2019) Not All Prostate Cancer is the Same ‐ Patient perceptions: An Asia‐Pacific study. Available online: https://bjui-journals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/bju.15129
  3. GLOBOCAN. (2012) Prostate Asia. Number of new cancers. Available online: http://globocan.iarc.fr/old/burden.asp?selection_pop=7967&Text-p=Asia&selection_cancer=24191&Text-c=Prostate&pYear=18&type=0&window=1&submit=%C2%A0Execute.  Last accessed: August 2019
  4. Reproduced with permission from Janssen, a division of Johnson & Johnson Pty. Ltd.


5 August 2020

These results don’t quite line up with my own survey of over 500 people.

  • With over 95% of the people not having heard of prostate cancer.
  • The only people that had heard of prostate cancer, have had it or had known somebody close that had had it.


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