Opinion

Support needed for those battling prostate cancer

IPSWICH men who need the most support with their prostate cancer are the least likely to seek help, with more than 80 per cent of patients reporting unmet supportive care needs.

A new study found older age, lower education and depression were barriers to men seeking help with a range of issues related to prostate cancer in the first year after diagnosis.

The study found 58 per cent of Queensland men with prostate cancer had unmet sexual needs, about half reported psychological needs, and 41 per cent had physical and daily living needs.

Director of Menzies Health Institute QLD, Professor Suzanne Chambers, said sexual needs caused the most concern and discomfort for men diagnosed with the disease.

"The top five needs identified by the study were sexuality, prostate cancer-specific needs, psychological, physical and daily living, and health system and information," Prof Chambers said.

"For most men, those who were older, less well-educated and more depressed were less likely to seek help for unmet needs.

"For older men, this barrier could relate to masculine values and self-reliance that prevents them from reaching out for support.

"Level of education likely reflects health literacy, which is a concern as low health literacy is linked to poorer health outcomes.

"The relationship between depression and not seeking help speaks to the need for regular assessment of psychosocial needs, including systematic distress screening."

Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift said where men did seek support, the top three sources accessed were medical professionals, nurses and prostate cancer support groups.

"Our research identifies the need for a holistic approach to better support men with prostate cancer - one that links medicine, nursing and community based peer support," Ms Clift said.

"Cancer Council offers a range of peer support, counselling, resources and health information for men diagnosed - via 13 11 20.

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Minister for Health Cameron Dick said more than 4000 men were diagnosed with the disease every year in Queensland, and about 650 died from prostate cancer annually.

"Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, and the risk of developing it or dying from it only increases with age," Mr Dick said.

"We know that early detection is the best prevention, but we also know that men are less likely to frequent the doctor than women.

"Increasing awareness of prostate cancer breaks down these social barriers to seeking help by encouraging more men to talk to their doctor, and in doing so, potentially save their own life."



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