Prostate cancer is the second biggest cancer killer in Australian men after lung cancer. With over 3000 Australian men losing their lives to prostate cancer each year, it's time all men started taking their prostate health seriously.
Enter the Australian Prostate Centre (APC): your one-stop-shop and "open access centre, primarily for prostate cancer but also other urological problems."
According to Urologist Dr Daniel Moon, one of the centre's founders, "there's nothing else like it in Australia."
Knowing that cost can be one major blocker when it comes to men seeking healthcare, this became a key factor to address in tandem with treatment.
Bulk billing for all consultations and procedures means no costs - all you need is a GP referral - and this is exactly what is offered at the APC.
Established in 2012 in North Melbourne, the largest pushes for the APC came from Guest Furniture's Bill Guest, and Professor Tony Costello, "a pioneer in prostate cancer treatment in Australia," Dr Moon says.
After his prostate cancer diagnosis, Guest travelled worldwide for various opinions and received robotic surgery under Dr Moon's care.
"[Guest wanted to give back by creating] a centre where all men could be offered the same rapid opinion and treatment with the latest technology," explains Dr Moon.
"It is recognised that we diagnose prostate cancer [sooner] in men with a higher socioeconomic status."
Targeting uninsured men - and providing rapid access to prostate cancer screening and treatment if necessary - is a key aim of the state-of-the-art centre.
Upholding this founding tenet of the APC, tradies who volunteered to get the centre up and running received free prostate cancer testing in exchange.
"At least one was found to have undiagnosed aggressive prostate cancer and as a result underwent timely life-saving treatment."
Not your average experience
"Men don't traditionally like to see doctors or look after themselves as well as women," says Dr Moon, suggesting that this may be part of the reason why their life expectancy is lower.
And unlike breast cancer guidelines, where diagnosis and treatment-onset need to take place "in a matter of weeks" regardless of the patient's healthcare status, there can be variable waiting periods at public hospitals when it comes to prostate cancer – which may prevent timely diagnosis and treatment, Moon said.
Providing a holistic approach and "integrated care in one location, whoever you need to see from a urological perspective you can see – from psychologists and physios to nurses, all paramount in being part of a team that helps a man through prostate cancer treatment," Moon said.
Don't diss the prostate test
"There's still a stigma and debate around prostate cancer testing (PSA testing) which really needs to go away. I think we're beyond that now," explains Dr Moon.
Dr Moon believes that while the test is not perfect, it's how you use it that really matters. "Sophisticated diagnostic techniques (including prostate-specific MRIs and PET scans) mean we can treat men who need to be treated and monitor men who don't.
"Astoundingly The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) website still recommends against PSA testing, despite Cancer Council Australia endorsing PSA testing since 2016 based on all current evidence – guidelines put together by a panel that included members of the RAGCP."
This is a concern seeing that GPs are the people men see for the first time about cancer prevention, Moon said.
"Since we've had PSA testing, for the first time we've been able to [tackle] prostate cancer in the early treatable stage."
For more information visit HealthShare, a joint venture with the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age to improve the health of Australians.