Survivors encourage men to get checked for prostate cancer

Blood tests had indicated there was an issue for a while, so it came as no surprise to Timaru’s Kevin McGlinchy when he was finally diagnosed with prostate cancer.

McGlinchy, 73, said the news was “a bit of a shock … it still knocks you there that you got cancer”, but the diagnosis wasn’t a “bolt out of the blue”.

His blood tests had shown his prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels had been increasing for a couple of years.

“Mine, being an aggressive cancer, it could have been fatal, but I knew that I was going to get treatment and that a lot of people that have prostate surgery survive,” he said.

“I was optimistic that I was going to survive and I have and I will continue.”

Both McGlinchy and Bob Penty, 74, are members of the Timaru Prostate Support Group, and have both had radical prostatectomies.

McGlinchy said the only major problem he had had since the operation was erectile dysfunction.

“It doesn’t work … that’s the major side-effect.”

The issue was openly discussed at the support group, and specialists could provide Viagra, which was usually effective.

Penty encouraged men over the age of 40 to get a PSA or a digital rectal exam (DRE).

“One of our aims is to get information into the community and to get men to accept that they need to be tested for prostate cancer,” Penty said.

“The DRE – put up with it, get it done. If they get it early, treatment is a lot easier … [and they have] a 95 per cent chance of a cure.”

Prostate cancer does not have any significant symptoms until it gets to the serious stage. Then it becomes “very, very problematic”, Penty said.

McGlinchy said the support group wasn’t restricted to people who had prostate cancer, but anyone wanting information, as well as wives and partners.

“Getting them to come to meetings and talk about it is difficult,” McGlinchy said. “That’s a major problem. Men won’t talk about health problems.”

What was said at a meeting remained confidential.

At a prostate cancer conference Penty recently attended in Auckland, 30 to 40 per cent of the audience were woman.

“It was the woman who were selling information, who were looking at sexual aids, who were looking at the incontinence underwear, it was the women that were generally doing more talking than the men,” Penty said.

The group meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7pm at the Cancer Society Rooms on Memorial Ave.

Timaru band The Black Sheep will be running a fundraising night at the Lone Star on September 3 for Prostate Cancer Month. Entry is free, but donations are gratefully accepted through the night.

Story by KOREN ALLPRESS on Stuff.co.nz

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