Men suffering prostate cancer need support
NEW research by a team of Cancer Council Queensland and Griffith University experts has highlighted the importance of professional psychological support for men distressed by prostate cancer.
CCQ spokeswoman Katie Clift said the findings were important for both health professionals and patients.
"This research confirms many men distressed by prostate cancer do not access the psychological care they need.
"Importantly, the findings demonstrate the effectiveness of a practical screening tool that health professionals can use to diagnose distress and ensure patients are referred to appropriate support."
Ms Clift said that as men may not come forward, it was important for doctors to spot signs of distress.
"It is critical that health professionals routinely check for symptoms of distress in men distressed by prostate cancer, both at the point of diagnosis and during life after treatment," she said.
"Addressing distress is essential to quality of life."
Ms Clift said CCQ's Cancer Counselling Service was one option for men experiencing significant cancer-related distress.
"All Queenslanders affected by cancer can access CCQ's specialised cancer counselling service, staffed by qualified psychologists," she said.
"The statewide service is provided free of charge in a range of settings, including phone, face-to-face and family counselling sessions.
"Patients and their loved ones can get referrals from their health professional or simply by calling the CCQ Helpline on 13 11 20."
Ms Clift said the Helpline was a free call# from anywhere in Queensland and also offered information, resources and connection to support programs and advocacy services for those affected by prostate cancer.
Lead researcher, Professor Suzanne Chambers from Griffith University, said the findings would help to improve clinical practice and inform future research into cancer-related distress.
"Our research has built on previous findings that show distress must be addressed and managed by health professionals in a diagnosis of cancer.
"Current clinical care guidelines for cancer treatment can be enhanced by the inclusion of a specific uniform method for diagnosing distress, to improve mental health outcomes for patients.
"We have used the research to make recommendations for a practical diagnosis tool that can be cost-effectively introduced and easily used by health professionals in consultation with patients at all stages in their cancer journey.
"Ultimately, we hope these findings help to raise the awareness of patients and care providers so that men distressed by prostate cancer can cope better with the adverse emotional impacts of cancer and maintain their quality of life," Professor Chambers said.
The research was delivered recently by CCQ's Leah Zajdlewicz at the ANZUP* Cancer Trials Group Annual Scientific Meeting and was awarded the Best of the Best Nursing/Allied Health prize, judged by an independent panel and awarded based on content, degree of innovation, significance and quality of the presentation.
CCQ's CEO Professor Jeff Dunn was a leading proponent on the study and one of five lead authors on the paper. Professor Dunn is also a Director of the International Psycho-Oncology Society (IPOS), which has called for global implementation of the IPOS International Quality Standard in Cancer Care.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer^ diagnosed in Australian men. Around 22,000 men currently live with advanced prostate cancer.
In Queensland, about 3700 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and a significant number suffer clinically significant distress - yet few seek help.
More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or Cancer Council Helpline 13 11 20.