9 June 2022

Men’s health matters

9 June 2022

Men’s health matters

International Men’s Health Week is observed each year in mid-June. It aims to boost awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of diseases that affect men and boys.

Community and medical groups use the opportunity to encourage effective early detection practices including regular self-exams and screening.

Men’s Health Week is coordinated in Australia by Western Sydney University. The week’s theme for 2022 is ‘Building Healthy Environments for Men and Boys’.  

The focus is on creating environments that are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy in the home, workplace and in social settings. The goal is to make health awareness and disease prevention information more accessible and to arm men with the tools to take their health into their own hands.

Why focus on men's health?

  • Australian men live on average 4.4 years less than women and, statistically, live the last 11 years of their lives in poor health
  • Australian boys are involved in more accidents, get sick more frequently and die younger
  • Heart disease, cancer, road accidents and suicide are the biggest killers
  • Mental health issues result in the death of a disproportionate number of men - an average of five men takes their own life around the country every day; the suicide rate for men is four times the rate of women
  • Australian men suffer and die from markedly higher rates of skin cancer, lung cancer, blood and lymph cancer, cirrhosis, and liver disease 
  • Men die from cardiovascular disease at earlier ages and have an increased risk of dying from diabetes 
  • Young men suffer 80% of spinal cord injuries, while 70% of developmental disabilities affect boys
  • Men make up just 56% of the Australian workforce yet are overrepresented in 94% of workplace fatalities
  • Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men and the third most common cause of cancer death - more than 18,000 new cases were diagnosed in Australia in 2021 and, statistically, one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease by the age of 85

    Source: Western Sydney University and Men's Health Month

PET PSMA available through Medicare from July 2022

The Australian Federal Government recently announced that Medicare will fund PSMA PET scans for men suffering advanced prostate cancer. 

The funding will cover the initial staging of intermediate to high-risk patients with prostate cancer and the restaging of patients with recurrent prostate cancer, ensuring improved access to this specialised service, and better health outcomes.

Researchers from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Research Centre in Melbourne conducted a study used in the application for the funding. The results of the study showed that PSMA PET scans accurately depicted the stage of the disease in 92% of newly diagnosed patients, as compared to 65% of men tested via conventional CT scan. 

Professor Declan Murphy, senior author of the study and Director of Genito-urinary (GU) Oncology at the centre, says, “PSMA PET/CT is a game changer, detecting disease that previous medical scanning technology failed to detect. Better detection of cancer spread is critical to direct curative treatments whilst also avoiding additional treatments that may be harmful. This is a great day for men with prostate cancer in Australia.” 

What is a PSMA scan?

Prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) PET scans are an extremely accurate tool used to diagnose the spread of prostate cancer.

When conducting a PSMA PET scan, a clinician injects a tiny radio tracer into the patient’s vein which finds its way to the prostate and binds with the cancer cells. The patient goes into a PET scanner where images are then taken of the entire body. Cancerous cells as small as 2-3mm can then be detected anywhere in the patient’s body.

PET stands for ‘positron emission tomography’ and is a nuclear imaging test used to diagnose a range of cancers, heart disease and other conditions.

A PET scan must be requested by a specialist doctor and must meet specific criteria to meet Medicare eligibility. In some cases, patients may need to pay a gap fee.  

Find out more here

Resources for men’s health 

Men are encouraged to be active in seeking out medical advice, to speak with professionals to understand the best course of action and to be persistent. Further information is available through the following resources: