Close to 500 Bay of Plenty men were diagnosed with prostate cancer from the start of 2019 to the end of June this year.
Tauranga man Wayne McCarthy was one of those men but he considers himself lucky to be diagnosed as, like many men, he was unaware there was a problem.
In total, 492 men in the Bay of Plenty District Health Board region were diagnosed with prostate cancer between 2019 and the end of June this year.
Nationally, 5320 men were diagnosed with the disease between 2019 and the end of May.
However, almost 300 fewer men nationally were tested for prostate cancer in March and April this year due to lockdown and lower diagnosis rates, according to the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
McCarthy first learned something was wrong while sheltering from the sunlight in a bush while taking a walk in Ōtūmoetai.
The sun strike on his phone meant McCarthy took refuge in the bush shade. He didn't know who was calling but the voice on the end of the phone told him he had to visit his doctor for more tests.
Regular check-ups following a heart attack 12 years ago meant doctors recognised abnormalities in his PSA test - the level of prostate-specific protein in the blood.
Another test, an MRI and a physical check of his prostate led to his diagnosis.
"I went to the library and I got out every book on prostate cancer ... I thought, I want to get my prostate cancer treated quickly, because obviously if you go quickly you're fine."
Prostate cancer is the number one cancer affecting men in New Zealand but with most men not experiencing symptoms, the key to decreasing the devastating consequence is yearly check-ups and early diagnosis.
However, "worthless" was how McCarthy said he felt after months of waiting for surgical treatment.
"You know that there's nothing you can do. I mean if you're used to sort of having reasonable control over your life then, when this happens, you have no control.
"Particularly if you're in the public system you just do what you're told to do."
Men face an average waiting time of 72 days for surgery, Bay of Plenty District Health Board surgery, anaesthesia and radiology acting business leader Dorothy McKeown said.
McKeown said, there was no target specifically for prostate surgeries.
"The DHB does not receive specific funding for prostate cancer but funds services out of our overall funding allocation.
"We agree with our providers a budget for the care of patients with prostate cancer; primarily through our urology, medical and radiation oncology providers."
Prostate Cancer Foundation chief executive Graeme Woodside said he often heard concerns about waiting times.
However, surgery was not always the first treatment option for patients presenting with prostate cancer because often it did not require immediate attention, Woodside said.
"With prostate cancer, it really doesn't matter if there's a delay of a few weeks or even a couple of months between diagnosis and treatment. It's not critical.
"Guys do have this anxiety thing going on. Just not knowing just what's going to happen and at the same time worried that they've got the big C word hanging over them."
What was a worry was the number of people being diagnosed, he said.
"The more you test, the more you'll find but it doesn't mean all those people need to be treated the same as might be low-grade cancers that don't actually need to be treated.
"But they're finding them earlier which is good because if they find them early at least the outcomes are far better and not so many guys die."