Nowadays, Breast Cancer receives a lot of attention, and rightly so. In fact, as I write this I am drinking from a water bottle splattered with pink, an attempt to raise awareness, and a sign that money has been donated to the cause. Last week, Cricket lovers in Australia and Sri Lanka tuned in to the Sydney Test Match, what is now dubbed the “Pink Test” for its role in supporting the McGrath Foundation to assist thousands of Australian families that are affected by Breast Cancer. In the five years that the “Pink Test” has been run, more than $3.5 million dollars has been raised, and hundreds of thousands of people have been made aware of the illness. Two of my other favourite sports also play notable roles in raising money and awareness for Breast Cancer; American Football and Basketball. The NFL also boasts more than $3 million raise since 2009, and can also claim to have informed hundreds of thousands of people. And while the NBA does not have an association-wide program to raise money and awareness for Breast Cancer, numerous NBA teams individually hold Breast Cancer “awareness events” and fundraisers, and many of the players individually take action to raise money and awareness. But what about Prostate Cancer?
According to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, close to 3,300 Australian men die of Prostate Cancer every year. This number is greater than the number of women who die of Breast Cancer every year. Furthermore, the National Breast Cancer Foundation says that 14,610 Australian women were diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2012, but more than 20,000 men were diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in the same period. One in nine men will be diagnosed with Prostate Cancer in their lifetime, and it is the most common cancer in Australian men. And, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, only 52% of men feel informed about Prostate Cancer (as compared to 78% of women about Breast Cancer). This isn’t a competition. I do not mean to belittle Breast Cancer or “hype” Prostate Cancer. But the very least we can say is that Prostate Cancer is incredibly important and yet comparatively ignored. Why? Is it because men are ashamed? Is it because men do not want to “man up” when they have medical problems? Whatever the reason, more attention needs to be drawn to the issue, especially considering the number of male dominated institutions (like Cricket, the NFL and NBA) that support Breast Cancer and give little to no attention to prostate cancer.
I am not advocating that less time and attention be given to Breast Cancer. I think the Sydney “Pink” Test is a brilliant idea, and should continue for as long as possible. Likewise I like the efforts of the NFL, NBA and countless other high profile institutions. But at the same time more attention needs to be given to Prostate Cancer. I did not know many of the figures I have quoted about Prostate Cancer until I sat down to right this, I could not even have ball parked the figures. But I could have come very close with the figures about Breast Cancer because this issue is often highlighted in the media and the sporting events I watch. This needs to change. Prostate Cancer is an incredibly serious issue and needs to get more attention, especially from male dominated institutions.