Politicians receive prostate cancer blood tests in Parliament House

Earlier this month as part of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Pathology Awareness Australia and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) invited parliamentarians to receive Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) blood tests at Parliament House to indicate their prostate cancer risk in a bid to learn more about how the disease impacts their constituents. The event was held as part of The Big Aussie Barbie, an annual fundraiser hosted by The Parliamentary Friends of Prostate Cancer Awareness Group co-Chairs, the Hon Jason Clare MP and the Hon Warren Entsch MP.

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In total 91 men participated in testing including Minister for the Environment and Energy, the Hon Josh Frydenburg MP, Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, the Hon Ken Wyatt AM as well as MP and Shadow Treasurer, the Hon Chris Bowen.

The event was a fantastic opportunity to show parliamentarians first-hand the utility of PSA testing and the benefits of appropriate pathology testing more broadly.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men with 20,000 men diagnosed with the disease each year. In 2017, it is estimated that 3,452 Australian men will die from prostate cancer.

PCFA encourages men between the ages of 50 and 69 to discuss PSA testing with their GP as part of their regular health check-up. For men who decide to undergo testing, the general recommendation is to have a PSA blood test every 2 years, from age 50 to age 69. Men whose risk of prostate cancer is higher than average due to family history can begin testing in their forties, depending on their level of risk.

Associate Professor Anthony Lowe, Chief Executive Officer of PCFA spoke at the event.

“We want men to feel empowered to take control of their own health, learn about their family history and pro-actively ask their GP about their testing options. A check-up is a good opportunity for men to discuss the benefits and harms of testing with their GP before making an informed decision.”

For co-Chairs Hon Jason Clare MP aged 45 and the Hon Warren Entsch MP aged 67 – who are at opposite ends of the age bracket – PSA testing is especially important. Jason Clare MP who lost his grandfather to prostate cancer, commented:

“Unfortunately, a lot of men don’t get checked until it’s too late when all it takes is a simple blood test. Talk to your doctor and get tested. It might just save your life”.

Hon Warren Entsch MP said:

“Prostate cancer is a disease I have become very familiar with in recent times having lost two friends this way. It wasn’t really something I thought about before then but now I know it’s absolutely critical especially as I mature. Take it from me it’s better to be educated by your doctor or PCFA, rather than finding out about prostate cancer like I did through the deaths of close friends.”