For GPs

‘Prostate Cancer Patients Can Control Treatment Options’

09 Jul 2018

Former prostate cancer patient Alan Keetley has urged men diagnosed with the disease to explore all treatment options before deciding on the right course of action for them.

Alan, who is co-leader of the Sunshine Coast Prostate Cancer Support Group – the largest support group of its kind in Australia – also stressed the importance of discussing and exploring possible side effects of all treatments.

Speaking to ABC Sunshine Coast Radio, Alan said men with prostate cancer needed to take time to learn about all potential treatments, including surgery and radiation therapy.

“Men generally think, ‘it’s cancer – let’s get rid of it’,” Alan said.  “I was in that category.

“We encourage men to find out what (treatment) options they have. They have got a bit of time (to) get a referral to a radiation oncologist, find out what is going on and make sure they are fully informed.

“Radiation therapy has come a long way. It is more precise and the side effects are more controlled, so the outcomes (compared with surgery) are fairly similar.

“The important thing is that the patient is in control of what is going on.”

Alan Keetley (right) and Rob Tonge, who help run the Sunshine Coast Prostate Cancer Support Group, want men to explore all treatment options before deciding on the best option for them.

Alan was 55 when he underwent successful surgery for prostate cancer.  His experiences led to him taking a prominent role with the support group.

The group offers information and assistance for prostate cancer patients and regularly attracts dozens of members to its monthly meetings.

“(Cancer) is behind me but the reason I’m involved with the group is to help other members,” Alan said. “At our latest monthly meeting we had 80 people come along, including four new ones.

“(They can) get some information and we can link them with people who had either surgery or radiation therapy treatment and they can be encouraged by chatting to those people.”

Alan said his group offered men the chance to discuss their concerns about side effects from prostate cancer.

“Probably the biggest (concern we hear) is impotence,” Alan said.  “When we were handing out (information) leaflets, their partner would say ‘give that to me and I will make sure he reads it’ because they know how important it is.

“I had one fellow who said to me ‘I would rather die (than suffer impotency from treatment)’. I also had one fellow who said he has been for a biopsy but he’s not going back for a result.

“(But) we are breaking through because we are getting so many men coming (to the meetings).”

The Sunshine Coast Prostate Cancer Support Group recently voted their support for men to see a radiation oncologist as well as a surgeon before deciding on their best treatment option.

Alan said his group was so successful because it took an informal yet helpful approach to informing people attending its meetings.

“Some people come along and they are blown away when they see how many other people are there,” Alan said.

“We will get (different) people coming – those for information and others who keep coming back as a social interaction with others.

“When we have that mixing over a cup of tea, it’s music to my ears when I hear that babble of voices.”

Click on the link below to listen to the interview in full:

Prostate Cancer IV request from Breakfast M-F.

Thanks to ABC Sunshine Coast for providing the audio.

For more information on the role of radiation therapy in prostate and other cancer treatments, click here.