Campaign hopes to remove stigma surrounding prostate cancer

A new awareness campaign regarding the most common cancer suffered by Irish men aims to remove the stigma surrounding the disease and encourages those at risk to get themselves checked out.

Campaign hopes to remove stigma surrounding prostate cancer

A new awareness campaign regarding the most common cancer suffered by Irish men aims to remove the stigma surrounding the disease and encourages those at risk to get themselves checked out.

‘Stand up for your Prostate’, organised by the Marie Keating Foundation, is targeting men’s awareness of prostate cancer, and tells them to watch for the signs and take action accordingly.

“Prostate cancer is the most common in men after non-malignant melanoma (skin cancer), but the indications are that only 16% of men consider themselves well-informed about its implications,” Helen Forristal, director of nursing with the foundation, said.

By contrast, other cancers have far greater awareness rates, with 31% and 26% of the population declaring themselves well-informed in the case of breast and skin cancer respectively.

She said that a stigma surrounds the illness, both with regard to getting checked out and the common perception that prostate cancer is generally an older man’s problem.

“What’s really important to remember is that if you have a family history of it, or of breast cancer, then you’re two and a half times as likely to suffer from it, and if that’s the case then you should be getting yourself checked out,” Ms Forristal said.

It’s an illness that often presents with no symptoms whatsoever, so awareness is critical.” “If a man has a family history then the really should be getting checked out at age 45.

Approximately 330 Irish men die from prostate cancer each year in Ireland, a roughly 11% mortality rate.

However the prognosis for the illness improves substantially depending on how early it is caught.

“The earlier that men present, the more likely of the illness being localised, rather than metastatised, or spreading to the bone,” Ms Forristal said.

She said the new campaign would work towards removing the association of prostate cancer with “very impactful things” such as erectile dysfunction or incontinence.

Six well-known male figures are spearheading the campaign, including RTÉ soccer correspondent Tony O’Donoghue - whose father died from the illness, Senator Neale Richmone, and broadcaster Matt Cooper.

“Prostate cancer took my Dad away, but it doesn’t have to take people away, it’s so curable when caught early,” Mr O’Donoghue said.

“Irish men need to think about their health for the years ahead,” he added.

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