Prostate cancer – could this oddly named device help?

Prostate cancer is no laughing matter. Every year, about 25,000 Aussies are diagnosed with the disease, of which around 3500 will die. That represents around 13 per cent of all male cancer deaths in Australia. In recent years, prostate cancer has been the most commonly diagnosed of all cancers in our country.

While cancer is no laughing matter, the prostate itself often is. Australian men, especially older Aussies, often make light-hearted remarks about prostates. It could be a passing jibe on the way to the toilet at the pub: ‘That’s the third time you’ve been, mate. Prostate getting a bit too big?’

The danger of making light of the prostate is that such jokes might be used to mask serious concerns. The bloke who’s just been to the loo three times in an hour might be genuinely worried about that fact. But the long-held Aussie male tradition is not to talk about such things, except through humour.

Perhaps that’s what Dr Adrian Sheen had in mind when he named his new medical device the ‘Widdleometer’. It may have an amusing name, but the Widdleometer performs an important role. It measures the strength of urine flow.

Some men might like the idea of it as a ‘manliness’ competition. However, measuring the strength of urine flow can be an important medical tool. A lower flow rate can indicate an enlarged prostate, which in turn can be a possible sign of prostate cancer.

Dr Sheen’s device represents a chance for men to tackle a serious problem in a humorous way. If that results in more men facing the issue earlier, it can only be a good thing.

Prostate cancer – the earlier it’s found the better

If Dr Sheen’s device encourages men to think about prostate issues earlier in life, it could well save those lives. Early detection and treatment has been proven to significantly improve prostate cancer survival.

Early detection, of course, relies heavily on not only being aware of bodily changes but acting on them, too.

Two famous Australian sporting examples illustrate that point.

The death of Aussie Rules star Ted Whitten in 1995 came long after he’d ignored early warning signs. Whitten had been urinating far more frequently than was normal but said nothing about it until his son, Ted junior, picked up on the problem. By then, unfortunately, it was too late. Prostate cancer took the older Ted’s life at the age of just 62.

More recently, former Australian Test cricketer Tim May went public with his story of prostate cancer. May skipped the chance of having a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test several times.

When he finally had one, May received a huge shock. “My PSA level went from one to 11.7, which was a massive red flag,” he said. “Anything over four is cause for alarm, so if I hadn’t skipped the test, I might have caught my diagnosis earlier.” Instead, May has had to endure 12 months of chemotherapy and has just entered a second 12-month block of treatment.

Getting a PSA test can be important, as can paying heed to changes in your body. The Widdleometer can help identify possible problems for men who aren’t quite sure. It is easy to use, simply requiring a full bladder and an accurate aim when urinating.

The tool features a ‘step’ point that you should be able to reach nine times out of 10 when urinating. Anything less would suggest a visit to your GP may be in order.

Prevention is better than cure

Catching prostate cancer at its earliest stage is a good thing. Preventing it would be better still. Is there anything you can do to help prevent its onset? The latest science suggests there is.

A newly published study has identified a potential link between increased cardio fitness and a lower incidence of prostate cancer. The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in January, says an annual increase in aerobic fitness of just 3 per cent or more is linked to a 35 per cent lower risk of prostate cancer.

That’s a potentially huge benefit from just a small increase in fitness. Remember, too, that increased fitness is also likely to confer many other health benefits.

So men over 50, next time you head to the pub, think about getting there via a brisk walk to improve your cardio fitness. And when you get there, ask your mates how their latest Widdleometer test went.

Have you had concerns about urine flow? Are you the sort of person to see a GP quickly or are you inclined to put such matters off? Let us know via the comments section below.

Also read: King seeks treatment for enlarged prostate. What does it mean?

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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