Affiliated with

Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia


ABN 26 499 349 142


The views expressed in this newsletter are not necessarily those of the Group. This Group does not offer medical or other professional advice.

Articles printed in this newsletter are presented only as a means of sharing information and opinions with members, with the object of promoting stimulation for independent thought and analysis, and sharing the experiences of others. It is not intended to recommend any particular treatment or product in this publication. Each person should assess the relevance to him/her self, and any person acting on information in this newsletter takes the responsibility for any such action. It is important that any person should consult with his/her health professional before making any decision about treatments, and all articles should be read in this context.



Since our last meeting, Jeff has been working very hard to complete arrangements for the awareness meeting to be conducted at Salisbury. This is the meeting that is being financed with the grant obtained from United Way South Australia Inc.

The John Harvey Gallery at the City of Salisbury (18 James Street, Salisbury) has been booked for Tuesday 18th November.  It has a seating capacity of about 150 persons, and that should be adequate for this location. Jeff and Theban have inspected this venue, along with a couple of other possibilities, and have recommended that this venue be booked. Cost of the facilities is $128.00 – which is quite reasonable. We will have to supply biscuits, and prepare the tea/coffee, etc.

Jeff has obtained quotes for advertising in the Messenger Press - $270.00 for an advert of 2 columns X 10cm., or $217.00 for 2 columns X 8cm. In addition, Jeff has been negotiating with Radio 5DN re paid advertisements. For 12 X 30 sec. commercials placed in breakfast, morning, afternoon & drive sessions, the cost is $492.00, including GST. 12 X 30 sec. commercials placed in best time available will incur no charge, as will a 2 minute interview in the leisure and pleasure segment on Sunday 16th November, at 11.25am. It is considered that this should give us good radio coverage, with the commercials to be broadcast from Friday 14th to Monday 17th November.

This would give us an advertising and venue cost of $890.00. Allowing for other incidentals, we should be able to keep this meeting within the $1,000 budget.

Dr. Agnelo DeSousa has kindly offered to again give his talk on aspects of prostate cancer.


We also need to decide on the location of our next county presentation, to be conducted within the grant from the Department of The Premier and Cabinet. Options at our disposal are the Riverland or the Kadina/Wallaroo area.


Since our last meeting, I have contacted the new Men’s Health Officer at Rocky River Health Services, Craig Smith, who sounds quite enthusiastic about the proposed awareness meeting in the Gladstone area. He is still getting acquainted with the job, and the area, and suggested that it is now too close to the harvest season to conduct a successful function. His suggestion is that we should wait until late January – early February 2004 to conduct that meeting.


Some members have been taking a look at our Group website @, and have concluded that it could do with some updating. Ian Fisk is quite interested in doing this work, and has enquired if there is any other member who would like to assist him with this work. Incidentally, this site can be accessed by the public, and will be hosted by the University of South Australia for an annual fee of $48.00 (sounds reasonable to me).

Another website that you might like to try is Health/focus.htm – it is said to have interesting links to prostate information.


Advice has been received that we have not been successful with our submission for the 2003 awards. Our submission has failed to make the final cut of the 180 submissions that make up the group to be considered for the final judging. The list of finalists can be viewed on  


One of our members, Kenneth Ashley, has now completed his radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. Kenneth reports to us from time to time, and has had a few side effects during his treatment, including some bleeding from the bowel. However, this has ceased, and he is now feeling much better, and sounds quite positive and chirpy. Our best wishes go to Kenneth for a complete cure from the disease, and we hope to see him back with us soon.

A couple of members, Jack and Marlene Dorrestyn, spent last weekend at the Bathurst 1000 (I didn’t realize that they are a couple of revheads), and won’t be back for tonight’s meeting. With Jeff and Theban Roberts away on one of their walking group tours, we might have trouble making up a quorum for this meeting.


The above guidelines have been prepared by the National Breast Cancer Centre, and are meant for use by doctors and health professionals. However, other interested persons may obtain a copy, if they wish to become acquainted with the guidelines. They may be previewed by download from , and there is an on-line order form at if anyone wishes to procure a hard copy of the guidelines. There is no charge for a hard copy.


Research has prompted the Queensland Cancer Fund to develop a support and information program specifically designed to help reduce the ongoing distress experienced by men diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Details were announced at a news conference on 1st October, and a copy of the media release is attached to the hard copy of this newsletter, for members to read.                                                 


Thousands of Australian men could unknowingly have potentially fatal prostate cancer because of defects in the common test for the condition. The prostate-specific antigen test, which is widely used to diagnose early signs of prostate cancer, is missing 82 per cent of tumours in  men under 60, according to research published (24/7/03). And the PSA test is missing up to 65% of prostate cancer cases among older men.

The US research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, claims that because standards for healthy PSA levels are not originally confirmed using biopsies, the accuracy of the test is overestimated. A PSA level of under 4.1 is considered healthy. But the team led by Rinaa Punglia of Harvard Medical School, recommends lowering the healthy PSA level to 2.6 to reduce the number of tumours missed.

The researchers evaluated 6691 volunteers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and found men under 60 with prostate cancer had a healthy reading 82% of the time.  Experts in Australia, however, believe that reducing the PSA level could lead to misdiagnosis of otherwise healthy men. (It seems that I have heard that line before – I wonder who?)

Bruce Armstrong, head of public health at the University of Sydney, also suggested that a reduction of the PSA threshold could result in needless biopsies. (Australian 25/7, +Canberra Times & Hobart Mercury)

(It appears that “experts” in Australia do nothing but refute overseas findings. One wonders why this continual negative attitude to overseas reports. If Australian “experts” are so good at their job, why don’t they lead the world in discovering the cause of prostate cancer, and finding the cure? Is it to cover up the lack of attention to men’s health? If the money and time that is spent on decrying overseas reports could be put towards some meaningful research, then I am sure that we could probably be world leaders in this research, instead of just looking at the dollars)


Surgeons at the Austin Hospital have successfully removed a cancer patient’s prostate using keyhole surgery for the first time, significantly reducing patient pain and the risk of post-operative complications. The new procedure has been performed only a couple of times in Australia and is particularly challenging for surgeons because the prostate is difficult to access using a laparoscope.

But it has some benefits, including reduced risk of impotence caused by nerve damage during surgery, and of incontinence from damage to muscles around the urethra. It also requires a smaller incision, reducing post-operative discomfort.

In a three-hour operation, urologists Yee Chan and Damien Bolton, and visiting French surgeon Claude Abbou, removed the prostate of Charles Walsh, 67, who was diagnosed with the disease two months ago during a check-up by his GP. Mr. Walsh is now cured of the disease and will not require any follow-up treatment.(Age 25/7 + Canberra Times + Daily Telegraph + Courier Mail) (That last statement is a very bold one).

In another development, at the Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA, a laparoscopic radical prostatectomy has been broadcast to an internet audience. The broadcast was the first in a series of 4. It was staffed by camera crews with complete access to the operating theatre, and featured live audio from within the operating theatre. While the urologist performed the surgery, his colleague described the procedure and answered email questions from viewers.

This procedure was performed in the Mass. General’s “Operating Room of the Future”, a unique. state-of-the-art operating suite that maximizes use of recent or new technologies.

With this procedure, it is done through several small incisions in the abdomen, rather than a large open one. Specially designed surgical instruments and cameras afford the surgeon precise control and excellent visibility for performing the operation. Being a minimally intrusive procedure, patients usually can return to regular activities more quickly and much more comfortably.

WEBSITES FOR YOU TO TRY – The National Volunteer Skills Centre site (a project of Volunteering Australia). Free generic and specialized training materials to volunteer involving organizations, and other information. Access to on-line resources, including an on-line library. - Consumers’ Health Forum site. Earlier this year CHF released a new publication: Guide for Community Organisations Running Health Workshops with Consumers. The aim of this guide is to help national community organizations, foundations and associations to get the most out of community grants. Apparently quite a comprehensive publication – check out this site.


Selenium is an antioxidant and a cofactor for glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme that is a potent scavenger of oxygen-free radicals. Epidemiological studies show a consistent trend for populations residing in geographic area that have low selenium levels in the soil to have a higher mortality from cancer. Other studies showed a lower risk for cancer in individuals with higher serum selenium levels. These include cancers of the bladder, pancreas, thyroid, stomach, lung, oesophagus, melanoma, head and neck tumours and brain tumours. Other studies have suggested protective effects against prostate cancer.

The “Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Project” (NPC) was a controlled, randomized cancer prevention trial in which 1312 patients received a daily 200mcg dose of selenium or placebo for up to 10 years. There were 13 cases of prostate cancer in the treatment group vs 35 cases in the placebo group during 7818 person years of follow-up. This was a statistically significant 63% reduction in the incidence of prostate cancer (p< 0.001). Given the slow rate of prostate cancer progression, the authors surmised that many patients in this study had disease that was undiagnosed at the time they entered the trial. They concluded that selenium supplementation may be useful in preventing the progression of occult prostate cancer.

We recommend selenium supplements be given as an organic, rather than an inorganic form. Organic sources of selenium such as selenomethionine, selenocysteine or mixtures of organic forms found in brewer’s yeast have a better safety profile. Recent research indicates higher doses of selenium can be safely given and may possess additional anticancer activity. We currently use daily selenium doses in the 400-800 mcg range in our patients. Other investigators are studying the effects of selenium in much higher doses (1,000-3,000 mcg/day) for prostate cancer and claim to have had little or no toxicity. Clearly, this area is controversial and requires further study. (Prostate CancerRresearch Institute website)


Findings from a new animal study suggest that selenium use may decrease age-related DNA damage in the prostate and increase epithelial cell apoptosis. Therefore, dietary supplementation with the mineral could be useful in preventing prostate cancer.

Dr. David J. Waters, from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, and colleagues evaluated the prostate glands of 49 elderly male dogs that were randomized to receive a regular diet or a diet supplemented with selenium for 7 months. The researchers’ findings are published in the February 5th issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Prostate cells and lymphocytes from selenium-treated dogs demonstrated significantly less DNA damage than cells from control animals (p<0.001), the authors note. Although the exact mechanism was unclear, it did not appear to involve the plasma antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase.

Animals treated with selenium also demonstrated significantly greater epithelial cell apoptotic activity than control animals (p=0.04), the researchers note. “Selenium may benefit the aging prostate by decreasing the accumulation of DNA damage in epithelial cells even before these cells show cytologic changes suggestive of malignancy,” the authors state.

“Further study of the process of carcinogenesis within the prostate of animal species vulnerable to spontaneous cancer development may provide important insights into the putative anticancer mechanisms of selenium and identify biomarkers that predict the prostate’s response to selenium,” Dr. Waters’ team concludes. (Oncolink – Abramson Cancer Centre of the University of Pennsylvania)


New research in Washington suggests men who have prostate cancer treatment may be at dramatically increased risk of eventually dying from the disease if levels of cancer-linked protein double during the first three months after treatment.

The findings suggested those men needed immediate hormone-suppression therapy to try to delay the deadly spread of their returned prostate cancer, and should consider experimental treatments, the researchers reported this week.

Dr. Anthony D’Amico, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, tracked 8669 men after initial prostate cancer treatment. Those whose PSA levels doubled in less than three months were nearly 20 times more likely to eventually die from their cancer than men with slower PSA returns, Dr. D’Amico reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. (Canberra Times, 18/9)


This event appears to have taken a distinctly positive turn, with the appointment of a Men’s Project Officer, Tony Francis, from ACCHS Enfield.

The latest advice is that the event will definitely be held at the Semaphore foreshore, on 13th March 2004. The theme of the expo will be “MAN ALIVE –not necessarily from MARS”. The organizers have requested that stalls should reflect the theme of “not necessarily from MARS”, and there will be prizes for the best stall/presentation at the Expo. The Expo organizers will now focus their efforts around whatever funding they have already received, to eliminate any previous doubts about sources of increased funding. More information to follow, I hope.


The October teleconference of SAC members will be conducted tomorrow (Oct 15th). Topics to be discussed include a review of the Melbourne Conference (held in August), new political opportunity, awareness meetings, symposium outcome, State Cancer Council relationships, advanced prostate cancer guidelines book progress. Chairman Max Gardner has submitted draft papers on “Service Issues in Prostate Cancer” and “Prostate Research Opportunities” which will be reviewed by the meeting.

Trevor Hunt