A ground-breaking position statement on prostate cancer was released in Canberra yesterday in a move set to transform the way Australia manages the disease.
The position statement, the first of its kind in Australia, seeks to address and raise awareness of the daily struggles – both physical and psychological – that accompany a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Screening for Distress and Psychosocial Care for Men with Prostate Cancer with the Monograph: A Psychosocial Care Model for Men with Prostate Cancer was developed by Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) in conjunction with experts from the NHMRC Centre for Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer Survivorship.
“For most men, a diagnosis of prostate cancer generates strong feelings and a life permanently changed. Few have access to specialised psychosocial care, and uncertainty hangs over every man who walks in its shadow,” they said.
Yesterday’s launch by Health Minister Greg Hunt in Canberra was the culmination of many years of work with experts across clinical and allied health fields, to improve care and better support those affected by the disease.
Minister for Health Greg Hunt with Jeff Dunn and Suzanne Chambers in Canberra on 11 September.
PCFA says, while survival rates of prostate cancer are high – 95% of men are likely to survive at least five years – the diagnosis of prostate cancer is a major life stress. One in four men experience anxiety and up to one in five report depression. Few men can access the support they need.
“This game-changing milestone represents the next frontier in innovative care,” says PCFA. “Our goal is not just to defeat prostate cancer, but to restore hope in a future free from both physical and psychological pain.
“Ultimately, this should result in improved awareness of the daily struggles that accompany prostate cancer survivorship, and much greater regard for each man’s right to enjoy a satisfactory quality of life.”
The Position Statement recommends that clinicians and health professionals apply a new comprehensive Psychosocial Model of Care for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, screening men for distress so that psychological and quality of life concerns can be identified and managed.
To support uptake of the Model, PCFA has developed a comprehensive implementation plan.
The announcement was accompanied by the release of an article jointly authored by Professor Suzanne Chambers AO, head of the Centre for Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer Survivorship and PCFA CEO Jeff Dunn.
Titled ‘Feelings, and feelings and feelings. Let me try thinking instead’: Screening for distress and referral to psychosocial care for men with prostate cancer,’ the article emphasises key points in the position paper and asks whether health professionals in oncology had the ‘will’ to adopt its recommendations into routine practice.
“The global burden of prostate cancer is escalating with over 1.2 million men diagnosed each year ,” says the article published in the European Journal of Cancer Care.
While clinical research and technological advances have expanded treatment possibilities, “the personal experience of prostate cancer and the feelings that surround prostate cancer are connected to physical, social, psychological and relationship challenges that for many men will be long term, if not lifelong.”
In Australia and elsewhere, distress screening has not been universally implemented and many men’s psychological needs are left unnoticed and unaddressed.
The position statement recommends that:
- After the diagnosis of prostate cancer and regularly through treatment and surveillance, men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer should be screened for distress and their psychological and quality of life concerns should be explored.
- Men who have high levels of distress should be further evaluated for anxiety and/or depression and evidence of suicidality.
- Men who have high distress or need for support should be referred to evidence‐based intervention matched to their individual needs and preferences for support.
- Research is needed to develop effective methods to identify partners of men with prostate cancer with high distress or who are at risk of high distress as well as effective interventions for partners and for couples where the man has a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
- Investment in prostate cancer survivorship research is a national health priority.
The statement was endorsed by the Urological Society of Australia and New Zealand; Australia and New Zealand Urological Nursing Society; Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists; Medical Oncology Group of Australia; Australia and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group; European Association of Urology Nurses; and universities across Australia.
TAKE ACTION FOR MEN’S HEALTH
Find out what you can do during Prostate Cancer Awareness month (Prostate Cancer Foundation)