Prostate cancer can appear without notice, says advocate

Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Not just the most common in men, but the most common overall. But the symptoms can be hard to spot – and far too many men are missing them.

Which is why Shannan Gove, prostate cancer joined host John Deeks on the YourLifeChoices podcast this week.

He’s here to help raise awareness of the terrible disease, inspired to the cause after the death of his father Tony back in 2022 after a five-year battle with prostate cancer.

“Dad was diagnosed about five years prior to when he passed in January 2022,” Mr Gove says.

“They kind of hit the number on the knocker, really. They said he had about five years and it was about that.

Mr Gove says his family were shocked when the diagnosis was first revealed.

“Dad was the fittest, strongest man around, especially at his age group,” he says. “So, it took us all by surprise. And he fought very hard, 22 bouts of chemo.”

His father’s death inspired Shannan to begin publicly campaigning for greater awareness of prostate cancer symptoms – since they are so difficult to spot, as his father’s diagnosis shows.

When asked how his father was diagnosed initially, Mr Gove says the traditional prostate cancer screening tests were all negative – until they suddenly weren’t.

“He had PSA tests across the journey prior that were all okay,” he says.

A PSA test stands for a prostate-specific antigen test. A PSA test is not actually a prostate cancer test, rather it simply measures the level of PSA present in the body.

High levels of PSA are correlated with prostate cancer, but a high reading does not automatically mean you have the disease.

Mr Gove’s says his mother noticed certain bowel symptoms normally associated with prostate cancer developing in his father, but her concerns were waved away because his PSA tests were coming back normal.

“He would just point to the PSA test and say, well, no, I’m fine because the PSA test is coming up fine,” says Mr Gove.

But that all changed very quickly one day when the PSA test came back with a very different result.

“Then one day Dad’s PSA number shot through the roof and within a couple of days or weeks, it was marked as it’s [the cancer] escaped from the prostate and he couldn’t have the surgery.”

In what felt like the blink of an eye, his father had gone from cancer-free, to having late-stage cancer that couldn’t be operated on.

Besides elevated PSA levels, other symptoms of prostate cancer can include having trouble urinating, a weak stream when urinating, blood in the urine or semen, aching bones and unexplained weight loss.

Shannan is now making it a priority to raise awareness of prostate cancer screening and awareness of some of the less common symptoms.

“You just look at dad being the fittest, healthiest person and you think it just couldn’t happen to someone like that that was so young, fit and happy.

“Then out of the blue it hits you like a truck. So, no other family should go through that and so if we can help avoid that by getting men tested and to keep an eye on symptoms.

He says after he launched his campaign, a number of his father’s friends got checked out, and many of them had elevated PSA levels.

But he says its not just older men who need to be aware. Traditionally, prostate screening begins in the 50s but Mr Gove says he would like to see younger men be more proactive.

“I’m only 35 myself,” he says. “I’ve already gone and got my PSA checked and my friends have all done the same.

“I think what pisses me off sometimes is doctors saying, ‘you’re too young, you shouldn’t even be in here.’ That’s the mentality that causes some of these things to get sort of swept under the rug, I suppose.

“People die because of that approach. You control your own destiny. So go and get things checked.”

Have you ever done a PSA test? Is there a history of prostate cancer in your family? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Aussies urged to boost cancer screening rates

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. I was diagnosed with Stage 3 prostate cancer several months ago. I had no symptoms at all and if I hadn’t been having regular blood tests for PSA irregularities I most likely wouldn’t have known until it was too late. I’m currently receiving radiotherapy and the prognosis is positive. My sons are in their early 40s and as they now have a family history of the disease, they will be undergoing regular testing. Every male over 40 should be monitoring their PSA level and not waiting for symptoms to develop as prostate cancer can be silent – and quite treatable if caught early.

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