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The Government’s denial of prostate cancer

29 April 2005

Newman Online:The Government’s denial of prostate cancer

This Week Newman Online looks at the issue of prostrate screening for men and asks why the Government hasn't implemented a screening programme for prostate cancer when it kills almost as many men as breast cancer.

A few weeks ago, John Tamihere confirmed in his infamous “Investigate Magazine” interview what many New Zealanders already know: that the country is being run by radical feminists. The ‘sisterhood’, as the Prime Minister apparently likes to refer to her inner sanctum of colleagues and advisors, effectively has an iron grip on the country. It is no wonder that New Zealand men are feeling more and more disenfranchised as each day goes by.

Feminist ideology has the ultimate goal of power and autonomy for women, with women taking over a country’s top jobs, finally freed from their ‘bondage’ to their husbands and children. As a consequence of the long-term enticement of women into power positions, children have been relegated to a distant second, and men are all too often regarded as the enemy.

While some relationships are strong enough to flourish under this feminist power transfer, many others flounder. The result has led to the undermining of the family and the marginalisation of fathers in particular, and men in general.

The reality is that since the feminist movement gained momentum in New Zealand in the seventies, successive Labour Governments have championed their cause. The problem is that their progressive radicalism has come at the expense of men who have become an increasingly side-lined group in society. Sadly, when National governments regained power, they have lacked the stomach – or the courage - to restore the measure of balance that is now so desperately needed.

Privileges for women come in many shapes and forms.

The Domestic Purposes Benefit – available after the breakdown of a relationship between two equal parents - gives a secure income and control over the children almost exclusively to mothers, while giving fathers child support liabilities!

New Zealand’s family law is now so totally biased against fathers that false allegations of violence can be freely used by a woman to discredit the father, with almost no fear of prosecution for perjury.

Even the education system has marginalised men: the threat of allegations by both students and colleagues has effectively driven men out of the profession. That now leaves a majority of the one in four children growing up in single parent families without any male role models in their lives. Largely as a result of this lack of dads in the home and male teachers in the classroom, boy’s educational achievements have deteriorated over the years. This trend will be reversed by nothing less than comprehensive welfare reform and family law reform.
However, there is another area where the inequality is especially pronounced, and that is in the area of health.

Answers to my parliamentary questions show that in 2003, 623 women died from breast cancer and 76 from cervical cancer. In the same year 572 men died from prostate cancer. The difference is that while women have benefited from the establishment of national screening programmes for both breast cancer and cervical cancer, the Government refuses to even contemplate a similar programme for prostate cancer for men.

Earlier this year, I met with a contemporary of mine who is having a dreadful fight against prostate cancer. Being middle aged but fit and healthy, John had no inkling that he had any hidden health issues until he needed blood tests for a driving licence medical check. The test indicated prostate cancer at such an advanced level that it would have been easily picked up through a screening programme.

Prostate cancer is a major cause of death of New Zealand males, being second only to heart disease. In fact, just today, the lead story in the Otago Daily Times has reported international research, which shows that New Zealand has the third highest incidence of cancer in the world. In particular it mentions that 14 percent of cancer in New Zealand is colon and rectum cancer, 13 percent breast cancer, 13 percent prostate cancer and 10 percent skin melanomas.

Yet, in spite of the incidence of male specific prostate cancer being ranked the same as the almost female specific breast cancer, the Labour Party has no plans to change the fact that women have two national cancer screening programmes and men have none.

In fact it has been rather astonishing to witness Labour’s strong enthusiasm for screening programmes for women, yet their major opposition to similar prostate programmes for men, in spite of research that shows that screening tests for prostate cancer are almost as reliable as for breast cancer.

An argument against prostate screening has always centred on so-called ‘concerns’ about the risk of ‘false positives’. But that situation is little different from that with breast screening - the nuisance value of worrying that you have cancer, while undergoing further tests, is massively outweighed by the relief on finding that you are clear!

I have consulted widely on this issue and believe there is a strong case for giving men the right to access a national prostate-screening programme. Since the Labour Party feminists can be expected to energetically oppose and undermine such a proposal, I would like to see the level of support for the idea in the community by starting a petition calling for the introduction of a national screening programme for prostate cancer.

If you support the idea and would like to help, please sign the electronic petition at www.act.org.nz/prostate If you would like to download the petition and collect signatures in your community, please print the petition form available on www.pcfreenz.co.nz , then post them back to me (freepost!) in parliament. If there is sufficient backing for the proposal, we can take a lead in bringing back common sense into the health sector by helping around 600 men a year who today are dying of a disease that could have been prevented.

“I support Dr Muriel Newman MP’s proposal to introduce a national prostate cancer screening programme for men”.


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