Empowering prostate patients

Depression, anxiety and an increased risk of suicide are among the hidden costs of a prostate cancer diagnosis, according to research recently presented at an international conference in Sydney earlier this month.

Professor Suzanne Chambers, a Griffith Health Institute researcher in the Australian and New Zealand Urogenital and Prostate Cancer Trials Group (ANZUP), joined a team of Australian and international experts to discuss a new Australian study aimed at empowering prostate cancer patients to adjust to their diagnosis and treatment.

Professor Chambers said the psychological care of men living with prostate cancer was a critical health issue, as about 20,000 Australian men – particularly the elderly – were diagnosed with the disease each year.

“The diagnosis of prostate cancer is, for most men and their families, a major life stress. Men worry about what the cancer means to their future and there are a wide range of treatment effects that affect quality of life, daily living and intimate relationships,” she said.

“With so many Australian men living with prostate cancer – estimated to be about 120,000 – this is a serious concern.”

Professor Chambers is working with ANZUP, Griffith University, Cancer Council Queensland and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia on a unique clinical trial aimed at finding effective ways to assist men in adjusting to advanced prostate cancer where the challenges are even greater.

The team developed a customised program for patients, aiming to reduce stress levels through meditation, peer support and increased self-awareness. The program will involve 190 men in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia to determine whether the program reduces psychological distress and improves their quality of life.

“We think the scope and methodology of the trial will provide a clear indication of whether these approaches are effective in reducing the psychological distress that comes with a diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer,” Professor Chambers said.

The session also featured US expert, Professor Donna Berry, who discussed new research on the physical and emotional side affects of anti-hormone therapy for prostate cancer and Professor Michel Bolla from France, who explored the clinical benefits and harms.

Do you know someone diagnosed with prostate cancer? Share your thoughts on this clinical trial by commenting below.