Eastern Eyre tops the state for prostate cancer

SURVIVOR: Cowell prostate cancer survivor Niel Smith, with his wife Pat, at their Cowell home.
SURVIVOR: Cowell prostate cancer survivor Niel Smith, with his wife Pat, at their Cowell home.

Cancer diagnosis data collected between 2006 and 2010 found men living in the Franklin Harbour, Kimba and Cleve district councils had a 69 per cent higher chance of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than the national average.

The study, conducted by the Public Health Information Development Unit (PHIDU) at Torrens University, mapped cancer incidence levels by community and locality across the nation.

Wudinna registered the fourth highest incidence level, with a 49 per cent higher incidence levels than the state average.

Franklin Harbour, Kimba and Cleve district councils had the highest levels of prostate cancer in the state and also rated highly on a national scale, recording the fifth, sixth and seventh highest incidence levels in the country.

However, there were such minimal incidence levels for other cancers in the area, they were not even included in the results.

The high cancer levels showed the need for more cancer treatment services throughout rural areas, with cancer patients often having to travel to Adelaide for treatment, with chemotherapy available in Port Lincoln and Whyalla.

Cowell resident and cancer survivor Niel Smith was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago and spent two months in Adelaide for radiotherapy.

“Because I had previously had a heart attack and was on heart medication, my oncologist recommended the radiotherapy,” Mr Smith said.

His wife, Pat, said their positive attitude helped in the situation.

“We didn’t mope around, we just did it,” Mrs Smith said.

“There was no choice, we had to travel over there and that’s what we did.

“We stayed at Flinders Lodge, which was fantastic, and walked to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for his treatment most of the time.”

The couple’s family, which consists of four children and 11 grandchildren, also traveled to Adelaide to visit and support them.

“I was over there around Christmas time, so they came to Adelaide and had Christmas with us,” Mr Smith said.

Links have previously been made between prostate cancer and Vietnam veterans, however Mr Smith did not go to war.

“People always want to blame it on something else, like why is this happening to me?

“But I never blamed it on anything, I just dealt with it.”

The data from the study is available on the PHIDU website.