Foundation delivers prostate cancer message

Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand Dunedin support co-ordinator Ken Cook wants there to be...
Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand Dunedin support co-ordinator Ken Cook wants there to be a national conversation about the disease. PHOTOS: PETER MCINTOSH
Step inside the van for a talk.

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand’s van visited Dunedin yesterday as part of its nationwide tour to raise awareness about the disease.

The $100,000 van, which was funded by Ryman Healthcare, will be present at various events throughout the South Island over the next few weeks, including the Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill, Southern Field Days in Waimumu, Gore and the Roxburgh A & P show.

The foundation’s Dunedin support co-ordinator Ken Cook said people could visit the van to get advice on how to check for prostate cancer.

"It’s a disease that affects one in eight men, and it’s vital for men over 50 to get a check-up.

"It’s a simple blood test ... if the reading spikes, it’s alarm bells, and you have to have further checks.

"That could include a digital rectal exam, or further scans."

Foundation staff would provide men with information about how to get a check-up, and what signs to look for.

"Men are naturally reluctant to get check-ups ... I’ve had people ring me up after getting the news they might have prostate cancer and they think the next person they have to call is the undertaker."

The Cancer Society van.
The Cancer Society van.
Education and outreach assistant Isha Singh said during the van’s Christchurch visit, there were "hundreds" of approaches from men.

"The feedback has been really good.

"We’re trying our best to get to Maori, Pacific and rural populations who might otherwise get ignored."

Radiation therapist and prostate specialist Andre Aumata said the van was a game-changer.

"The awareness it can bring is massive.

"We’re looking at all demographics and ethnicities. We’re wanting to put prostate cancer in everyone’s mind.

"Pamphlets don’t reach rural towns. A van like this can."