19 April 2024

Australians impacted by prostate cancer are being urged to have their say on Australia’s guidelines for PSA testing, in a bid to help strengthen systems for detecting the disease early.

The call comes off the back of a major expert and consumer review into national testing protocols for prostate cancer.

The review is being co-chaired by Professor Jeff Dunn AO, President of the Union for International Cancer Control and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Chief of Mission.

“A new and improved surveillance program will be key to our success in detecting high-risk prostate cancers at the earliest stage in order to reduce the burden of prostate cancer on the Australian community,” he said.

“We have gathered 51 national and international experts, alongside consumers, to help review the latest evidence and now want to hear from Australians whose lives may have been impacted by the existing guidelines to see what we can learn.”

The current guidelines were approved by the NHMRC and released in 2016.

Co-chair of the review, Adjunct Professor Peter Heathcote, said consumer comments would be key in devising new communication strategies for a revised set of guidelines.

“Prostate cancer is a major threat to the health of Australian men, with more than 25,000 men newly diagnosed each year.

“As our population ages and increases, with improving life expectancy, the number of men at risk of prostate cancer in Australia will significantly increase, so that by 2032 around 30,000 Australian men will be newly diagnosed each year

“Without concerted action to detect high-risk cases of the disease early, many of these men will face an unacceptable risk of avoidable death.

“It’s vital that we invest in programs to promote early detection among high-risk men and ensure these men and their families get the earliest possible access to world-leading clinical care and support.

PCFA CEO, Anne Savage, said national action to introduce a surveillance program for the early detection of prostate cancer would be critical to saving lives.

“By this time next year, we hope to launch a new way forward for Australian men and families impacted by prostate cancer.

“Our approach will represent the very latest evidence, guided by community input, to ensure no man gets left behind.”

PCFA research estimates that around 630,000 Australian men face at least double the risk of a prostate cancer diagnosis due to their family history of the disease.

“The introduction of a more structured approach to early detection, together with targeted investment in public awareness, can save many lives,” Ms Savage said.

“Joint action, supported by everyday Australians, can help us defeat prostate cancer,” she said.

To comment, go to pcfau.org/psa-guidelines-review.



Key figures: 

  • Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia.
  • 25,487 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2023.
  • 3,743 Australian men will die from prostate cancer in 2023.
  • 70 Australian men are diagnosed each day with prostate cancer.
  • 10 Australian men will die each day from the disease.
  • 250,000 Australian men are alive today after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
  • Men diagnosed with prostate cancer have a 95% chance of surviving for five years compared to their counterparts in the general Australian population.
  • Between 1982–1987 and 2012–2016, five-year relative survival for prostate cancer improved from 58% to 95%.

Detailed data:

  • Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cause of cancer-related death among men.
  • Prostate cancer will cause an estimated 12% of all male deaths from cancer in 2020.
  • The estimated risk of a man being diagnosed with prostate cancer by age 85 is 1 in 5. The estimated risk of a man dying from prostate cancer by his 85th birthday is 1 in
  • The rate of men dying from prostate cancer has been gradually falling over the past 20 years.
  • Men living in regional or rural areas have a 24% higher rate of dying than those in cities.
  • Indigenous men with prostate cancer have a 50% higher risk of death from the disease.
  • By 2040 it is estimated that 372,000 Australian men – or 2.4% of the projected male population – will be living with prostate cancer.

Mental health impacts of disease:

  • 1 in 5 men with prostate cancer will develop anxiety and depression.
  • 72% of men with prostate cancer will not seek help for distress.
  • 67% of men with prostate cancer have unmet information needs.
  • Men with prostate cancer face a 70% increased risk of suicide.

A 10-year study of Australian men affected by prostate cancer has found significant numbers of men have lower life satisfaction and experience long-term impairments to quality of life, whereby 35 to 40% of men experience poorer physical and mental quality of life outcomes and life satisfaction 10 years after the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.