The American Cancer Society recently published a guide for GPs to assist them in longer term care of their patients who are Prostate Cancer Survivors.
The guide runs through several aspects of men’s health that GPs should keep in mind. A recent article from Dr Gerald Chodak for the on-line Medscape database for health professionals outlines the key points of the guide, and they are summarised below:
- The first issue for prostate cancer survivors is general health and promotion of well-being. Many men focus to a great extent on their concerns about prostate cancer while neglecting other health concerns that are far more likely to result in their death. General health issues such as stopping smoking, watching their weight, reducing obesity, improving nutrition, and taking regular exercise promote overall well-being and assist to minimise the longer term issues of prostate cancer.
- Other matters relate to quality of life as a consequence of the treatment for prostate cancer. Urologists, oncologists, and radiation therapists are aware of the need to monitor patients who have treatments and experience side effects, and make efforts to address them. But over time there may be other associated problems and the man’s GP can address these. It is important for men to keep the communication channels open with their GP and talk about problems that are bothering them. Some men can become depressed with their diagnosis or side effects that they are experiencing as a result of their treatment. Their GP needs to be made aware of these problems so they can be addressed.
Here in New Zealand, there are support organisations for men who are prostate cancer survivors, and they provide education, resources and support for men and their families. One example is the Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand. Their website states that over 3000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year in New Zealand, and their mission is to empower men to make informed decisions about diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer.
Blue September is a month long promotion for prostate cancer awareness which we support at Grace Hospital. Various activities are held throughout the hospital to encourage staff and patients to talk about prostate cancer and hopefully to prompt men exposed to the campaign to talk to their GP about testing for prostate cancer. If we can get men tested as recommended by their GP, maybe we’ll be able to slow down the incidence of serious prostate cancers.
We’ll post more information on our websites throughout September to show you what we have been doing for prostate cancer awareness.