Steve Fawcett is a man on a mission.
The newly elected 2nd Vice District Governor for District 201C1 2022/23 is heading a project in the Upper Spencer Gulf aimed at making it easier for men to have a prostate cancer check.
A safer and more accurate prostate cancer screening machine will arrive at Port Augusta hospital by mid-2022, saving men overnight trips to Adelaide for the surgical procedure.
The cost of the transperineal biopsy machine’s is $90,000, half that amount will be raised through the Port Augusta Lions Club.
Steve and his Lions team have so far raised $22,000 and they have not finished.
Local donations from industry, community and other district clubs contributing as well.
A grant of $45,000 from The Male Bag Foundation charity means they are well on their way to paying for the leading-edge prostate cancer biopsy.
A transperineal biopsy machine — the equipment used to sample the prostate gland — is expected to arrive at the Port Augusta Hospital in June next year.
Although a decade old, the transperineal biopsy is the preferred procedure by specialists because of its safety and comfort for patients, which would encourage more men to get checked earlier.
“From a health perspective, the country is a very poor cousin to the city,” said Steve, whose father and father-in-law died of prostate cancer.
“Having to stay in Adelaide overnight or for an extended period all adds up, so it costs a lot more for country people to get a health service equal to the city.”
Steve has had other relatives with prostate issues and having a machine locally would allow them to remain with their families.
Transperineal were not commonly found in regional hospitals said Rob Glover, Chair of the Male Bag Foundation.
Through postie bike runs, the foundation has raised funds to offset half the cost of a transperineal biopsy machine if the remainder can be raised by community groups.
“In the case of my father, he was a bit old school with going to the doctor,” Steve said.
According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, prostate cancer is the most common male cancer.
If caught early, the survival rate is around 95 per cent but it still causes the second most deaths in men after lung cancer.
The Lions push to buy a prostate cancer machine has the full support of the Male Bag Foundation patron and AFL legend David Parkin OAM.
“On the Foundation’s behalf, I want to acknowledge the Health Network’s leadership team, Port Augusta Lions and the Whyalla Prostate Cancer Support Group for partnering in this significant health initiative,” David said.
“We know this will be a game changer for men’s health, and we look forward to working together to achieve this mission.
“My South Australian football and education connections alerted me to the state of play with prostate cancer in this part of the world, so it’s a great pleasure to muster the Male Baggers into action and work directly with the local community.
“Prostate cancer remains the largest cause of death among blokes, with survivorship in regional communities being well below the national average. Early detection, local diagnosis and treatment is a game changer for men and the people who love them.”
Jonathan Cho, a consultant urologist at the Port Augusta Hospital, said the method of taking samples of the prostate gland through the perineum — the area between the scrotum and anus —had become the preferred option for many urologists.
Prior to that, bio
psies were taken through the rectum and that carried a higher infection rate of 3 to 5 per cent, which could potentially be life-threatening in older patients with other health problems.
With the newer technique, the infection rate is less than half a per cent.
Dr Cho said the transperineal biopsy machine also gave a better view of the prostate gland particularly at the front, making cancers there more easily detectable compared to previous techniques.
Dr Cho also said having a transperineal biopsy was less traumatising than the transrectal procedure, which was usually done just under local anaesthetic.
He said doctors often had to reassure men needing a biopsy who experienced the older procedure that this experience under general anaesthetic would be much more comfortable.
The unit is expected to be commissioned by June 2022 and will ensure that public patients across the Health Network (Quorn, Leigh Creek, Port Augusta, Whyalla and isolated Aboriginal communities) will have the same level of service that is available in Adelaide.
Steve and his team will join the Male Bag postie crew, to continue their fundraising push by riding their postie motorbikes from Adelaide to Melbourne next March (2022).