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Monday, 2 June 2003
Page: 15574

Ms O'BYRNE (1:42 PM) —I am pleased to support the motion by the member for Robertson, which I understand is in effect cosponsored by the member for Lilley. This is certainly one of those issues where bipartisanship is totally appropriate and fully justified.

In my home state of Tasmania there has been a significant attempt to raise awareness of prostate cancer and, in particular, to encourage men to consider health checks and treatment. We have also been very prominent in treatment. In my own electorate, we have a very fine cancer treatment facility, the W.P. Holman Clinic. The Holman Clinic describes itself as a leader in Australia in using high-dose rate brachytherapy for cancer of the prostate by providing a method of intensifying the radiation dose delivered to the affected area. It is appropriate that the clinic has placed a high emphasis on the treatment of prostate cancer as Tasmania has reported the highest rate of prostate cancer after the ACT—156.3 per 100,000 population. On the other hand, it has also been suggested that Tasmania may have a higher reported rate because of the awareness campaign that has been run and the uptake of prostate specific antigen testing.

According to figures provided by the Tasmanian Cancer Council for 1999, the most recent year for which such is available, prostate cancer was the most common cancer in Tasmanian males, with 276 new cases diagnosed. While the number of cases was greater than that of any other cancer, numbers have continued to decline since the peak in 1994 when 420 new cases were reported. But, sadly, prostate cancer accounted for 13 per cent of all cancer related deaths in Tasmania for that year, with 71 men dying of the disease. This is far higher than it should be. It is thus essential that we remain vigilant about the need to keep Australian men, particularly those in the most at-risk categories, aware of the existence and implications of prostate cancer.

In this regard, I specifically refer to paragraph (3) of the member for Robertson's motion, which draws attention to the reported collapse of a proposed national awareness program. There is a very high chance if prostate cancer is detected and treated before it extends beyond the prostate itself that it can be cured. Even if it is not detected early, its development can be restricted by hormone treatment. There is thus every reason and a high level of justification for awareness programs about prostate cancer. All sides of this parliament have been strong supporters of awareness, screening and treatment programs for breast cancer. We should not hesitate to take a similar line with prostate cancer.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 1.45 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 106A. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.