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PROSTABLOG NZ: The NZ government needs to add prostate cancer to its health priorities, if a Prostablog poll is any indication.

That was the most popular choice of those voting in the poll, which asked Kiwis what they think the Health Select Committee inquiry into prostate cancer should hear.

The closing date for submissions to the inquiry was today.

Votes in the Prostablog poll numbered only 48, which seems a modest result – until you compare it with a similar poll run recently on America’s most prominent prostate cancer website, the New Prostate Cancer Infolink.

It got only 120 votes, so considering the population difference, we didn’t do too badly.

Notwithstanding the extent of the vote, the Prostablog poll has a clear message for the government:

  • Add prostate cancer to the health priorities (it doesn’t get a mention in the new list announced in May.
  • More money should be committed to prostate cancer research (does anyone know how much is spent now?).
  • It should be compulsory for all GPs to offer prostate cancer tests.
  • Population-based prostate cancer screening is urgently needed.
  • The Ministry of Health should be running a TV campaign like those used to spread the screening message to women about breast and cervical cancer.
  • NZ needs more modern prostate cancer treatment drugs.

The Prostablog poll

What should the prostate community tell the NZ Parliamentary inquiry into prostate cancer?

POLL

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JUNE 27: PROSTABLOG NZ: Hopes held by the NZ prostate cancer community that the Government might fund a marketing campaign urging men to get checked took a blow this week.

Hopes were lifted the week before with an announcement the Health Select Committee will inquire into screening, but last Friday this news item appeared in Fairfax media outlets:

THE slashing of millions of dollars from health-promotion programmes targeting cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other long-term conditions will affect frontline services, Government critics warn.

According to Budget documents released by Treasury yesterday, $37 million of ‘‘savings’’ have been docked from 18 health-promotion services, including $2.3m from cancer control, $4.8m from the ‘‘let’s get checked’’ diabetes programme and $3m from the heart disease budget.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said very few of the savings affected any existing services and even in tough economic times, health funding had increased $750m.

Millions of dollars have been spent on extensive TV campaigns aimed at groups in society most at risk of not getting early detection of breast and cervical cancer, heart diseases, diabetes and smoking-related diseases.

These campaigns have focused on Maori and Pacific people, whose poor health statistics justify the special attention

The prostate cancer community has been pushing for a similar effort aimed at men – especially Maori men – but so far the Ministry of Health has said there is no proven benefit from a population-based screening programme.

The Ministry has provided guidelines to GPs, but stepped back from recommending PSA and/or digital examination tests as a matter of course for men with no symptoms of prostate cancer.

The select committee inquiry has already drawn fire, the latest coming from Otago epidemiologist Brian Cox, whose paper in the New Zealand Medical Journal earlier this month rubbished the idea of prostate screening.

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