Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 24 September 2015

Save a life

This is the first Mayoral newspaper column I have delivered from a hospital bed and hopefully it will be the last!

As you may know, I underwent surgery for prostate cancer on Friday. I am making a speedy recovery and expect to be back on the job soon. But before I leave hospital, I have a message for the people of the Far North: Get an annual check for prostate cancer if you are a man and over the age of 40. If you're neither of those things, pass this message on to the men in your life.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in New Zealand men, affecting about 3,000 men each year and killing about 600. If that doesn't strike you as significant, consider this - about one in 13 men will develop prostate cancer before the age of 75. That means there is a good chance that you or a father, husband, grandfather, brother, uncle or friend will develop this cancer.

The sad thing is that deaths from prostate cancer can be prevented if the disease is detected early. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen in far too many cases. Men either don't know how dangerous the disease is or they choose to avoid thinking about it. This is a crazy situation that we need to address as families and as a community.

Prostate cancer doesn't exhibit symptoms in the early stages and it is usually too late for an effective cure when symptoms start to show. This is why regular check-ups are important. Please tell the older men in your life to have a regular PSA test if they are between 50 and 70 or are 40 or older and there is a family history of prostate cancer. This simple blood test does not diagnose prostate cancer, but it does indicate that there may be abnormalities in the prostate gland so can lead to early detection of the cancer.

I also encourage people to support the Prostate Cancer Foundation during Blue September, the foundation's national awareness month. The foundation receives no government funding and relies on the generosity of Kiwis to help it support men and their families who are affected by prostate cancer. Please buy a blue ribbon or go to Blue September website to make a donation to the foundation. You could help to save a life.


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