Commonly Asked Questions | Prostate Cancer
17th June 2023
Everyday 66 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the nation’s most commonly diagnosed cancer, according to Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA).
The five-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer has improved from 58% in 1982 to 95% today, thanks to significant advances in research and treatment.
Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer, or knowing someone who has been diagnosed, can be a challenging and confusing time. That’s why, as part of the 2023 Men’s Health Week, Calvary is shining a light on the disease. Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse at Calvary Mater Newcastle, Nancy Consoli, has answered some common questions about the disease, treatment and recovery.
Q. Early diagnosis is key when it comes to treating prostate cancer. What are some of the signs men should watch for?
When prostate cancer first develops there may be no symptoms at all. In later stages, symptoms might include frequent urination, difficulty or pain when peeing, blood in the urine or semen, unexplained weight loss, and body aches.
It’s important to remember these symptoms could be caused by a range of factors, and do not always mean you have prostate cancer. If you develop any of the symptoms above, see your GP straight away.
It is also crucial to take proactive measures. The current Australian Guidelines for PSA Testing recommend all men discuss their individual risks and testing options with their GP.
If you have no family history of prostate cancer and no symptoms and decide to get a PSA test, you should do so every two years from age 50.
If you have a family history and decide to get a PSA test, you should do so every two years from age 40 or 45.
Q. I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer. What’s next?
When anyone hears the word cancer there can be strong emotions of shock and disbelief. It is really important to allow yourself time to understand the diagnosis and seek the support you need.
I really encourage men to get in touch with their local PCFA Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse as a first step, or at any time during your treatment and recovery. In my role as a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, I provide my patients with the care and support they need wherever they are in their cancer journey, and answer any questions they may have. I also work with their doctor and treating specialists to coordinate their care and treatment plan.
Most men will be referred to a urologist for their care, or the most appropriate treating specialist.
Q. What options are available to treat prostate cancer?
There are numerous treatment options available that depend on a range of factors including age, stage of disease and medical history. It is important to remember, treatment pathways are individualised and may not be the same for someone else with prostate cancer.
The most common treatments are:
• active surveillance
• hormone therapy
• nuclear medicine therapy
Q. Will my life change after prostate cancer?
A diagnosis can be challenging and life after treatment can change for many men. Side effects differ for each person and may include incontinence or erectile dysfunction. It is important not to go through any of this alone. Having support around you can help with the anxiety, stressors, and challenges that a diagnosis and treatment can bring.
The good news is most men go on to live healthy, active, fulfilled lives while living with, or after, a prostate cancer diagnosis.
Q. If I have any concerns or problems, what other services are available to me besides my doctor?
For more information and support visit www.pcfa.org.au or phone 1800 220 099 to speak with a Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenurse. They can also put you in touch with a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse in your local area.
Q. How can I support someone diagnosed with prostate cancer?
How much you are involved in someone’s treatment will depend on his needs, your relationship and how much you are able to do. Every situation is different, but there are simple things you can do like being available to talk and listen. Give them the space to share how they’re feeling and reassure them you are there for them. It can also be helpful to assist with basic errands and other things that may need doing.
Partners, family and friends are encouraged to reach out for support too. PCFA has a Telenursing Service, and Counselling service which support people can also access.
Phone 1800 220 099 or download more information at: www.pcfa.org.au/awareness/general-information/general-information-resources/
The two prostate cancer specialist nurses based at Calvary Mater Newcastle’s Prostate Cancer Specialist Service provide patients and their families with physical, psychological and emotional support, and can provide care and advice across all aspects of prostate cancer.
The service is available from the time of diagnosis and at any stage during and after treatment. Patients can be referred to the service by a treating specialist, GP, or you can self-refer. Call Calvary Mater Newcastle’s Prostate Cancer Specialist Service on (02) 4014 4652.