Sam Newman has surgery for prostate cancer

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Sam Newman the football personality has had surgery to remove a prostate cancer tumour and is now waiting to hear whether the cancer has spread from the prostate to other parts of his body.

Newman, who is 62, was diagnosed three weeks ago and it will be several days before doctors will know the extent of his illness.

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in men and occurs mainly in men over 50 years of age.

Prostate cancer detected and treated before it spreads beyond the prostate, can be cured by surgery which removes the whole prostate, or radiotherapy which destroys the cancer.

The PSA test (Prostate Specific Antigen) involves a simple blood test; when cancer is present, the level of PSA rises.

Other tests further down the line involve rectal examinations and biopsies of suspicious tissue.

If prostate cancer is detected after it has extended beyond the prostate area it can be slowed down by hormone treatments, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

However men should be aware that a PSA test can produce abnormal results.

To date the jury is still out as to whether early detection programs actually save lives.

Men who are at high risk of developing prostate cancer are those whose father or brother (first degree relative) have had prostate cancer at an early age.

Urinary symptoms such as frequent emptying of the bladder and a weak urinary stream, are not necessarily due to prostate cancer, but to benign prostate enlargement which does not mean cancer.

The Cancer Council of Australia says 85% of cases are diagnosed in men aged more than 65 and though quite common prostate cancer accounts for less than 3,000 deaths a year.

The former footballer has become something of a controversial character for allegedly making making sexist and racist comments.

He regularly appears on the the AFL Footy Show on the Nine Network and though he remains in good spirits he has asked the media to grant him privacy while he waits for the pathology results.

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