HealthManagement, Volume 16 - Issue 2, 2016

Prostate Self-care and Awareness

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Men Lag Behind


In an ideal world, there is no answer to the common question ‏of what we would recommend men of all ages to do ‏or change in their lifestyles to reduce the prospects of ‏prostate cancer. Unfortunately, we don’t know what causes ‏prostate cancer, but what we do know is that a healthy lifestyle ‏(equilibrated food and healthy exercise) is beneficial ‏for many conditions.


If one advice should be retained it is to stop smoking ‏because we know smoking is one of the causes of bladder ‏cancer and could have an influence on other urogenital ‏cancers. So, it is better to be safe than sorry.


Patient Safety Concerns


As patient safety concerns are no different in treating prostate ‏cancer in comparison to other cancers, there are no ‏specific safety rules. However, the positioning of the prostate ‏requires special attention so as not to bring harm to ‏delicate tissues around the organ. For radiation treatment ‏for metastasis, the position (bone, lung, brain, etc.) requires ‏adapted safeguards.


Prostate screening is only done in a few countries, as in ‏most countries it is up to the patient to ask for a prostatespecific ‏antigen (PSA) test, which is the most used blood ‏test to detect “problems” in the prostate. What we do see ‏today is that more patients with low-risk prostate cancer are ‏taken care of with active surveillance as the initial treatment. ‏For patients, this can then become the only treatment they ‏will ever have for their prostate cancer.


As a patient organisation and active in advocacy, we are ‏in constant contact with all stakeholders and we try to be ‏present wherever this could be beneficial for our fellow ‏patients. This can be at the level of the European Medicines ‏Agency (EMA), the guidelines committees at European level ‏(EAU) or in the member states. In our contacts with the ‏industry and clinicians, we always want to know what is ‏coming up for the patients, because their future is our first ‏concern.


Europa Donna vs Europa Uomo

I am often asked, “can we compare Europa Donna and Europa Uomo, or is it like comparing apples and oranges?”


In fact, we can compare, but Europa Donna has a longstanding tradition of patient involvement and advocacy, whereas Europa Uomo is still learning and improving on these. So, our achievements are growing…


When it comes to self-care and awareness about prostate, ‏men are known to be lagging behind and that is not because ‏we only started late, but because most men are ignorant on ‏health issues and accept that their partner, wife or mother ‏takes care of them. We have work to do to motivate them ‏to become aware that their health is their own responsibility ‏and that it should not depend on someone else’s pushes. ‏


Despite growing numbers of male bladder cancer or other ‏urogenital cancers, at present, Europa Uomo is only about ‏prostate cancer, that is how it was founded 12 years ago. ‏The potential of extending our interest into other male conditions ‏(cancer) has not been expressed and needs to be seen.

Wrong to Put Age Limit for Screening


As regards the timing or age for screening, it would be wrong ‏to choose an age to start with the screening for any illness. ‏There could be an ideal age to start, but this should be ‏according to the specific disease. And, screening for a disease ‏is only one step in a diagnostic path, as there should be ‏enough evidence for all the steps in that path. We should, ‏in the end, diagnose men with curative diseases in such a ‏stage that they can be offered a curative treatment.


In recent developments, the influx of migrants from refugees ‏from lower-healthcare countries (North Africa, Middle ‏East, central Asia) has created a strain for the medical profession, ‏as well as the patient services and organisations. It ‏also certainly adds new strains on our healthcare systems ‏and new challenges as well. We have seen the appearance ‏of new diseases, or the recurrence of old diseases that we ‏did not see before, but only rarely, and the financial burden on health systems has increased.


On the same issue, it is difficult to identify qualified urologists ‏from among the “wave” of migrants and refugees that ‏could be better utilised to help overcome the language or ‏cultural barrier. But, as we constantly have doctors from all ‏over the world in training here, even as urologists, we may ‏find adequate help there. It will always be a problem to allow ‏doctors trained in a far away country, in a language not spoken ‏in our country and under a different healthcare system, into ‏our own healthcare system without proper (re)training.


Key links:

Prostate Self-care and Awareness, Europa Uomo, patient safety, prostatespecific ‏antigen (PSA) test Prostate Self-care and Awareness

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