Calls for the introduction of a national screening programme

By Mary Dennehy

MORE than five years ago, local TD Sean Crowe was diagnosed with prostate cancer and is now drawing on his experience as he calls for the introduction of a national screening programme.

Deputy Crowe has shared his experience to raise awareness of prostate cancer and the need for a national screening programme as the country marks Men’s Health Awareness Month, which runs throughout June.

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Deputy Sean Crowe, TD

According to the Dublin South West Deputy, who underwent surgery and treatment for prostate cancer and continues to be monitored, 90 per cent of men diagnosed with this type of cancer survive.

“June is Men’s Health Awareness Month, so it is an appropriate time to raise the question around providing a screening programme for prostate cancer”, Deputy Crowe (SF) said.

“The Irish Cancer Society estimates that roughly 3,357 cases are diagnosed every year.

“The good news is that over 90 per cent of men who are diagnosed with the disease survive.

“However, testing and identifying the cancer early is key.”

He added: “For me, this is personal.

“I am one of the lucky ones who was pro-active regarding my health, got tested, the cancer was discovered and various treatments, including surgery followed.

“We know that the chances of developing prostate cancer increase with age.

“Most cases occur in men who are 50 years or older, but it can also happen if you are in a younger age bracket.

“I would urge anyone reading this that’s over 50, and who is concerned about their health, to talk to their GP about having a PSA blood test.

“The PSA blood test measures Prostate Specific Antigen [a protein made by the prostate].

“PSA does not test for prostate cancer but can help your GP decide if you have a potential problem.”

Deputy Crowe told The Echo that he didn’t experience any specific symptoms before he was diagnosed, he was “just feeling out of sorts” when he visited his GP.

“I met lots of people I knew when I was going through treatment, there’s really good comradeship between patients”, Deputy Crowe told The Echo.

“A lot of people have been through this but maybe we don’t talk about it enough.

“We need to talk about it.

“I have been approached by a few people who wanted to talk about it or ask a question, and they went away feeling better about it and visited their GP.”

Deputy Crowe is calling on the Government to also talk about prostate cancer, and the provision of a screening programme.

“Unlike many other European countries, there is currently no national screening programme for prostate cancer in Ireland”, he said.

“A men’s screening programme would help eliminate unnecessary tests of treatments that can cause unpleasant side effects like invasive biopsies.

“A screening test programme could include combining PSA blood test with an MRI scan for men with raised PSA levels.

“The benefits of screening are obvious, as state wide screenings are highly successful in identifying other cancers in our population.

“A debate around providing a screening programme for prostate cancer is long overdue and I am calling on the Minister for Health, advocacy groups and men in general to take ownership of this issue and make it a reality.”

According to the Irish Cancer society, one in seven men in Ireland will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime.

For further information on prostate cancer and support available, visit www.cancer.ie or call the society’s Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700.

This week, June 15 to 21, is also Men’s Health Week, follow Tallaght University Hospital on Facebook for posts, information and support.

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