Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Spotlight
In September we mark Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. The San has a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service to support patients and their families from diagnosis of prostate cancer and throughout the patient’s cancer journey.
The dedicated nursing team provides services around pre and postoperative education, information on treatment and treatment related side effects, and supportive care around psychosocial health, sexual function, exercise programs and overall survivorship needs.
We sat down with two of our Prostate Cancer Patient Navigators Danielle Stone (left) and Levina Saad (right) to find out more about their roles.
“Our role is to support men and their families through cancer diagnosis, treatment and side effects. Provide pre-operative information, education and post op follow up. We help them navigate through the health care system to ensure smooth transition between points of care. Involves assessing their psychological and emotional health, then referring them to appropriate services as needed.” (Levina & Danielle)
How long have you been in your role?
"Nearly 2 years" (Danielle) and "close to 2 and a half years" (Levina)
Why is your role important/how is your role important?
"We are the key point of contact for information, care navigation and advocacy for our patients. We are there to support both them and their families to navigate through this difficult time. I want patients to progress well through their treatments and receive the assistance they need in order to feel better. I have noticed that patients are less anxious and distressed when they are provided with the support and information they need." (Danielle)
"We provide patients supportive care during the moment they are diagnosed, before and after their surgery or treatments, we help them manage treatment related side effects by liaising with their primary care providers and specialists, and we also provide support around psychosocial health, sexual function, exercise programs and overall wellbeing/survivorship needs. I am a patient’s greatest advocate. I’ll keep up with a patient’s information such as appointments, treatments and medications. I want to ensure the patient that he is getting the best care and that I am always here for him. I want to make sure they are progressing and that they can find comfort in my help." (Levina)
What inspires you?
"What inspires me are the men who have been through so much and are continually positive in their outlook, motivated to follow the treatment plans and to live life to the full. I enjoy being able to spend more time talking to our patients and their families, to encourage them and support them." (Danielle)
"I always feel really privileged in being able to meet my patients and their families at such a vulnerable time in their lives and that they allow me to care for them during their journeys. It is such fulfilling feeling when I see my patients thrive throughout their survivorship journey as it shows the support, we are providing helps." (Levina)
What has working in this role taught you?
"The best life lesson we have gained from working in our positions is the value of teamwork. It can take more time to work on projects, or ideas together, when others are involved (allied health, navigators, doctors etc) but the outcomes are far better and more broader reaching. This includes the value of survivorship." (Danielle & Levina)
If you had any other message to share this month, what would it be?
"Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia, claiming the lives of ten men every single day. Many men will experience anxiety and or depression because of their cancer." (Levina)
"Please get your prostate checked as most men don’t have any symptoms. Know that there is support for you and your families. You don’t have to do this alone." (Danielle)
This nationwide initiative is aimed at highlighting the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men and raising awareness about the importance of early detection. In Australia, on average 66 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer a day, making it the most commonly diagnosed cancer. In total, 24,000 Australian men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, and it is responsible for the deaths of 10 people every day. One in 5 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 85. Many of these men will experience anxiety and depression because of their cancer, facing a 70% increased risk of suicide death.
The best chance of surviving this disease is to detect it early. Early diagnosis means there are more treatment options available. It’s important for men of all ages to know what they can do to help find prostate cancer early.
Do you know your family history of prostate cancer?
- If your father or brother have ever been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your risk of prostate cancer doubles.
- If two or more relatives have been diagnosed, your risk increases five-fold.
- If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and/or BRCA1 or 2 genes, your risk is also greater.
- Your risk of prostate cancer increases as you get older.
What is a PSA test?
The Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test is a simple blood test that helps with identifying concerns with the prostate. Monitoring PSA levels in the blood helps to detect prostate cancer early, increasing the chance of survival.
Do you need a PSA test?
Do you have a family history of prostate cancer?
- NO – Talk to your doctor about PSA testing starting at age 50. If you develop symptoms, talk to your doctor the same day.
- YES – Talk to your doctor about PSA testing starting at age 40. If you develop symptoms, talk to your doctor the same day.
Do you know the symptoms?
Prostate cancer often has no symptoms in its earliest stages. As it grows, symptoms could include difficulty or pain when urinating or ejaculating, and blood in your urine or semen. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, see your doctor.
How the San supports Prostate Cancer patients and their families
Prostate Cancer Navigators
The San Prostate Cancer Navigators are registered nurses who help patients and their families navigate their diagnosis of prostate cancer and the cancer journey. The Navigators provide support around psychosocial health, pre and postoperative education, information on treatment and treatment related side effects, sexual function, exercise programs and overall survivorship care.
Cancer Support Centre
There are several great services available in the Cancer Support Centre including free counselling for patients and their families, support groups, nutrition classes, exercise classes, oncology massage, reflexology, meditation and yoga. There are 2 prostate cancer support groups, bimonthly evening groups are held with guest speakers, these groups have an education format and are held via zoom. Bi monthly afternoon groups are held onsite and are founded on emotional wellbeing and peer support. All people impacted by Prostate Cancer are welcome to attend either or both groups.
Recent participation in the 2023 City2Surf has seen significant funds raised through San Foundation, which will be used to create a pelvic floor exercise physiotherapy group for men, including those with prostate cancer.
San Integrated Cancer Centre
Our Integrated Cancer Centre offers a variety of diagnostic and treatment options for our oncology patients and other chronic diseases. It is multidisciplinary in nature with most services available to patients within the one location. Our Clinical Trials Unit gives patients access to trials that aim to deliver better patient outcomes through advanced oncology treatment options. Patients have access to psychologists through Headway Health, Sexual Health Physician Dr Eva Jackson, and our extensive allied health services.