Prostate Cancer Facts


There will be many of us who know of someone who has had Prostate Cancer, or perhaps has died as a result of the disease. Vietnam Veterans are within the age group that makes us particularly susceptible to Prostate Cancer, and I seek your assistance in publishing the following information in your newsletters and on your sub-branch email lists.

Prostate Cancer is a taboo subject for many veterans, but we must at least try to put information in front of our members-by doing so we will be providing practical welfare support to our members.

Those of us who saw the sad spectacle of Ted Whitten, stricken with Prostate Cancer, doing a final lap of the MCG a few days before his death will never forget it, and we would not want that to happen to any of our mates if we could help it.

1. Prostate Cancer is the most common cancer in Australian men excluding non-melanoma skin cancers.

2. There are more Prostate Cancer deaths than breast cancer deaths in Australia.

3. In 2005 more than 2,900 Australian men tragically died from Prostate Cancer.

4. In 2006 it is estimated that 18,700 new cases of Prostate Cancer were diagnosed in Australia.

5. Australian men have a 1 in 5 risk of Prostate Cancer by the age of 85 years.

6. Regional and rural Australian men have a 21% higher mortality than men in capital cities.

7. Certain risk factors have been consistently associated with Prostate Cancer:

Age: Risk increases with age for men from 50 years onwards.

Family History: Men whose father or brother has or had Prostate Cancer are at greater risk.


1. Speak with your GP about Prostate Cancer-this is your first step in your own health promotion. Remember:

That often there are no symptoms in the early stages of the disease.

2. Ask your GP to conduct a PSA test (a blood test) and a digital examination. A combination of a PSA test and digital examination should be included as a part of your general male health check from 50 years of age onwards or from 40 years of age if there is a family history of Prostate Cancer.

3. Talk to your partner and your mates about Prostate Cancer, encourage each other to take Prostate Cancer seriously.


There are 84 Prostate Cancer support groups in Australia. Information is available at or 1800 22 00 99.

Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) -an alternative treatment for Prostate Cancer- To find out about IMRT and if the treatment might be appropriate for you, talk to your GP or urologist

Information contained above from Australian Institute of Health and Welfare and Australasian Association of Cancer Registries 2007, and Michael Coory and Peter Baade, Medical Journal of Australia February 2005

Exposure to Agent Orange linked to prostate cancer in Vietnam veterans

Public release date: 5-Aug-2008
Contact: Karen Finney
REFERENCE: University of California Davis Health System
SACRAMENTO, Calif.)( — UC Davis Cancer Centre physicians today released results of research showing that Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange have greatly increased risks of prostate cancer and even greater risks of getting the most aggressive form of the disease as compared to those who were not exposed.

The findings, which appear online now and will be published in the September 15 issue of the journal Cancer, are the first to link the herbicide with this form of cancer. The research is also the first to utilize a large population of men in their 60s and the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test to screen for the disease.
“While others have linked Agent Orange to cancers such as soft-tissue sarcomas, Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, there is limited evidence so far associating it with prostate cancer,” said Karim Chamie, lead author of the study and resident physician with the UC Davis Department of Urology and the VA
Northern California Health Care System. “Here we report on the largest study to date of Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange and the incidence of prostate cancer.”

Chamie also said that, unlike previous studies that were either too small or conducted on men who were too young, patients in the current study were entering their prime years for developing prostate cancer. There was also the added advantage that it was conducted entirely during the era of PSA screening, providing a powerful tool for early diagnosis and tracking of prostate cancer. More than 13,000 Vietnam veterans enrolled in the VA Northern California Health Care System were stratified into two groups — exposed or not exposed to
Agent Orange between 1962 and 1971. Based on medical evaluations conducted between 1998 and 2006, the study revealed that twice as many men exposed to Agent Orange were identified with prostate cancer. In addition, Agent Orange exposed men were diagnosed two-and-a-half years younger and were nearly four times more likely to present with metastatic disease. Other prostate cancer risk factors — race, body-mass index and smoking — were not statistically different between the two groups.

“Our country’s veterans deserve the best possible health care, and this study clearly confirms that Agent Orange exposure during service in Vietnam is associated with a higher risk of prostate cancer later in life,” said Ralph de Vere White, UC Davis Cancer Centre director and a study co-author. “Just as those with
a family history of prostate cancer or who are of African-American heritage are screened more frequently, so too should men with Agent Orange exposure be given priority consideration for all the screening and diagnostic tools we have at our disposal in the hopes of early detection and treatment of this disease.”
Now a banned chemical, Agent Orange is a combination of two synthetic compounds known to be contaminated with the dioxin tetrachlorodibenzo-paradioxin (TCDD) during the manufacturing process. Named for the colour of the barrel in which it was stored, Agent Orange was one of many broad-leaf defoliants used in Vietnam to destroy dense forests in order to better visualize enemy activity.

It is estimated that more than 20 million gallons of the chemicals, also known as”rainbow herbicides,” were sprayed between 1962 and 1971, contaminating both ground cover and ground troops. Most of the rainbow herbicide used during this time was Agent Orange. In 1997, the International Agency for Research on Cancer reclassified TCDD as a group 1 carcinogen, a classification that includes arsenic, asbestos and gamma radiation.

The study was funded by the UC Davis Cancer Centre. In addition to Chamie and De Vere White, study authors were Bryan Volpp, associate chief of staff, clinical informatics, VA Northern California Health Care System; Dennis Lee and Joonha Ok, UC Davis resident physicians with the Department of Urology; and Lars Ellison who, at the time the study was conducted, was an assistant professor with UC Davis and chief of urology with the VA Northern California Health Care System. Ellison is now affiliated with the Penobscot Bay Medical Centre in Maine and a major in the U.S. Army Reserve currently serving active duty in Iraq. A copy of the study can be requested by emailing Amy Molnar at

Prostate cancer is the second most common malignancy and the second leading cause of cancer death in American men. It is estimated that there will be about 186,320 new cases of prostate cancer in the United States in 2008 and about 28,660 men will die of the disease this year.
Designated by the National Cancer Institute, UC Davis Cancer Centre is leading the way in identifying the molecular pathogenesis of carcinoma of the prostate, enhancing therapeutic response and identifying chemoprevention. For more information; visit Cancer Council Victoria