Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15567

Ms HALL (1:12 PM) —Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of the member for Robertson and the member for Lilley, and congratulate them on bringing this important issue to the House. Cancer is a disease that has enormous impact on the lives of those who develop it. It is an insidious disease that is often viewed as a death sentence by a person when he or she is diagnosed with it. It impacts not only on the individual who has the diagnosis but also on that person's family. It has a psychological impact, the treatments associated with it have enormous impact, and there are always side effects associated with those treatments.

Today this House turns its attention to prostate cancer, a disease that is responsible for the deaths of over 2,500 Australian men each year. It is important for we in this parliament to note that two members of this House—the two members who are jointly sponsoring this motion, the member for Robertson and the member for Lilley—have been victims of prostate cancer. Both are relatively young men and, as I said, both are supporting this motion. It shows just how common the disease is that two relatively young members of the House—two members out of 112 male members—have been diagnosed and treated for the disease in the last two years. It also demonstrates that this disease must be taken seriously. It must be taken seriously by the medical community, by the Cancer Council and by men.

Prostate cancer, like most other cancers, is difficult to detect. The cause is unknown, although there is information that supports the theory that there is a tie within families. I think that men who have close relatives who have had prostate cancer should take the threat very seriously. As I say, the cause is unknown, and the treatments have unwanted side effects and varying degrees of success, as is the case with all cancers. The most commonly used tool is the PSA test, which measures the PSA levels in a person's blood. It is a strong indicator as to whether a person has prostate cancer. For one in three people that have elevated levels of PSA and go on to further testing it is shown that they have prostate cancer. That demonstrates quite effectively how important this test is.

Testing can and does identify the presence of prostate cancer. What is needed is a test that differentiates between aggressive and non-aggressive types of cancer. Unless we have more research and more education, this will not happen. If we want to achieve this, we must have those dollars. We must have money for research and longitudinal studies. We really need the government, the medical community and the research community to take this seriously. It is a very important issue that is affecting our community. Prostate cancer has become a lot more predominant in recent years. That is an issue that should be researched as well.

There has been controversy over whether men should be checked routinely for prostate cancer. The most important thing is for men to have the information—to be aware that prostate cancer is so prevalent within our community, that there are tests that can assist them and identify the cancer and that there are many treatments for it. It is important to recognise the symptoms of prostate cancer. As I do not have very much time remaining, I will not go through the symptoms, but I recommend that anyone who is at all concerned should see their doctor.

It is the role of government to invest in research and health promotion. Much more research is needed into prostate cancer—its identification, cause and treatment. It is a disease that afflicts many men in Australia. Its incidence appears to be increasing. Public awareness of the disease can be increased only through active promotion by the government. (Time expired)