• A smoking ceremony takes place at Bangarra Dance Theatre, Sydney, during the launch of the prostate awareness flipcharts (NITV News)Source: NITV News
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men can now access culturally appropriate information about prostate cancer.
By
Tara Callinan

27 Oct 2015 - 11:39 AM  UPDATED 27 Oct 2015 - 1:22 PM

The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and Australian Government distributed three culturally appropriate flipcharts to help support Aboriginal and Toress Strait Islander men living with prostate cancer in late October.

The new resources were unveiled during a launch at Sydney's Bangarra Dance Theatre.

A flipchart designed by Karajarri artist Marcus Lee from the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia with nine men dying from the disease every day, according to the prostate foundation. It is also the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men in Australia.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare & Cancer Australia 2013. Cancer in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia: an overview.

 

Anthony Lowe, Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia CEO, says the flipcharts will help healthcare professionals and communities become more aware of the illness and the journey from diagnosis to treatment.

"We worked closely with healthcare professionals and government bodies who understand the health needs and culture of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to ensure we developed resources that provide the culturally appropriate support and information," he said.

A study titled Engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Prostate Cancer Health Care Programs was released in conjunction with the flipcharts.

Authors and illustrators Tim Earnshaw, Dr Keith Gleeson, Dr Mick Adams, Rajah Supramaniam and Marcus Lee.

Dr Mick Adams, one of the authors involved in the study, found that Aboriginal men were reluctant to undergo prostate cancer testing due a history of child sex abuse.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, and most medical health professionals, are not comfortable in discussing issues associated with sexual and reproductive health including prostate cancer," said Dr Adams. 

"Quality information availability and awareness is crucial to early identification and decision making in prostate cancer." 

The risk of developing prostate cancer increases with age and it is estimated that one in five men will be diagnosed by the age of 85 in the general population, the foundation said.

Despite having lower rates of diagnoses, Aboriginal and Toress Strait Islander men are more likely to die from the disease within a five year period.

"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men, and most medical health professionals, are not comfortable in discussing issues associated with sexual and reproductive health including prostate cancer"

Research suggests this is due to disparity in location. It can be difficult for Indigenous people living in remote regions to access treatment. There is also a shortage in healthcare providers working in non-metropolitan regions.

This highlights the need for community-lead programs, such as The Yarning Circle, to be rolled out across isolated areas where men are hesitant to speak up about their health.

For more information on Prostate Cancer and to find a support group near you, visit www.prostate.org.au/support/find-a-support-group/