Poor awareness among Europeans despite rise in prostate diseases

Thu, 20 Sep 2012

Despite the steady rise of prostate diseases in many European countries there remains a lack of awareness not only among men affected with prostate disease but also in the general public regarding the urgent need for wider public support and proper healthcare.

“The taboo among men themselves not to talk or consult with doctors remains. Across Europe we see a consistent lack of awareness, and unless we step forward ourselves to recognize this health threat we will always have insufficient support from other sectors,” said Dr. Erik Briers of Europa Uomo, a European coalition of patients’ support groups that aim to increase public awareness of prostate diseases.

Together with the European Association of Urology (EAU) and the European Cancer Patient Coalition, Europa Uoma organised yesterday a day-long information campaign in Brussels, Belgium. Aside from an information booth set up on the public square outside the European Parliament, the event also included an information meeting with EU politicians led by Belgian MEP Frieda Brepoels.

Following the hour-long meeting which also presented both patient and specialists opinions, the meeting concluded with a Brussels declaration by Europa Uomo and its partners which confirmed that prostate cancer is the most “prominent in men’s cancer and the third most frequently occurring cancer-related cause of death in men.” It also recognized that the proper use of the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test to detect prostate cancer at an early stage is by far the most effective tool used by doctors.

“A man, well-informed about his prostate and the PSA test, is entitled to a PSA test and to early detection of prostate cancer. General practitioners and urologists must use PSA tests in an intelligent way and safeguard men from unwanted side effects,” the declaration read in part.

EAU Secretary General Per –Anders Abrahamsson presented the current views on PSA and early detection, while Didier Jacqmin focused on the issue of active surveillance and the need for a more aggressive treatment in high-risk prostate cancer patients. Regarding non-cancerous prostate conditions, Chris Chapple gave an overview on chronic prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and other diseases.

Europa Uomo Secretary General Prof. Louis Denis, a prostate cancer survivor himself, gave an emotional appeal, stressing that prostate cancer patients need all the support they can have to systematically respond to the threat of prostate cancer. “Prostate cancer patients are in the bottom when it comes to priorities. We have lost dear friends who may have benefited from timely and more responsive actions,” Denis said as he recounted the 2011 death of a physician colleague in the UK who lost the battle against aggressive prostate cancer despite repeated chemotherapy.

Brepoels said EU parliament members recognize the need for urgent measures and the necessity to expand the scope of healthcare priorities. “We have to reach as many people as possible in order to face the threat of cancer,” she said as she noted that a multi-sectoral approach is needed to identify and implement healthcare measures that serve the needs of patients across the region.