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Psychological needs of prostate cancer patients overlooked

17 July, 2007

Men with prostate cancer feel that they are not getting enough support to address their sexual and psychological needs after diagnosis or treatment, according to a new study by The Cancer Council NSW.

The study, published in the latest edition of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, found that just over half of the 978 men with prostate cancer surveyed expressed some level of unmet psychological and sexual needs during the year after diagnosis. This was particularly the case for younger men, those with less education, poorer health and those undergoing surgery.

According to David Smith, Research Coordinator at the Cancer Council NSW and one of the authors of this research, little was known about the supportive care needs of prostate cancer patients.

“While the clinical management of prostate cancer has improved over the past few years, there are gaps in supportive care for prostate cancer patients, especially relating to their sexual and psychological needs. Addressing these patients' needs are important to their satisfaction with their overall treatment and with their quality of life,” he said.

The authors suggest that improved access to a spectrum of services including nursing specialists, psychological counselling, peer support groups and educational information should be considered to address these supportive care needs.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst Australian men with around 11,200 Australian men diagnosed each year. These results are the first to be published from the NSW Prostate Cancer Outcomes Study, which is following 2000 men with prostate cancer, assessing quality of life and other outcomes of care.