For Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, which is held in September each year, we got in touch with Adjunct Professor Sally Sara, Director of Nursing Programs for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA), to find out more about the Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses of Australia.
What does it take to become a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse?
Being a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse (PCSN) is all about having a passion for supporting men and their families through all stages of prostate cancer diagnosis, treatment and beyond.
PCSNs are often the first point of contact for men who are newly diagnosed, and they continue to be a vital source of information and support from navigating treatment, to seeking referrals, and managing treatment side effects for the months and years that follow.
Our PCSNs are all qualified nurses with experience in urology, oncology or other relevant areas of healthcare. On joining our program, they undertake an in-depth prostate cancer nursing e-learning course and participate in a robust annual professional development program.
“Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses are often the first point of contact for men who are newly diagnosed.”
What are the tasks of a Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurse, and can any patient contact you when in need?
PCSNs are available to access for all men in Australia diagnosed with prostate cancer. We have over 100 nurses in locations across Australia, plus a dedicated team available via telephone. Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) nurses:
- Provide clear and consistent evidenced-based information and resources about all aspects of prostate cancer.
- Help men to understand their diagnosis, treatment options and ways they can manage side effects.
- Provide men with support to make informed decisions about their health.
- Offer relevant practical and emotional support tailored to their prostate cancer needs.
- Link men with local support networks including Prostate Cancer Support Groups, PCFA’s Prostate Cancer Counselling Service, and peer-support programs.
“Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses are available to access for all men in Australia diagnosed with prostate cancer.”
Which role does the Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service play, also in connection with the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and when working as multidisciplinary teams?
PCSNs, placed in health services across Australia, are supported by the PCFA working in partnership with their employing local hospital or health network. PCSNs are an integral member of health service multidisciplinary teams and work closely with all relevant health professionals to provide a high level of patient care to men diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“Prostate Cancer Specialist Nurses are an integral member of health service multidisciplinary teams.”
Please let us know more about the Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service.
PCFA’s Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service was first launched in March 2021 to meet an increasing demand for accessible prostate cancer services. Through the telenursing service, all Australians impacted by prostate cancer, no matter where they live, can now have access to a Specialist Nurse simply by picking up the phone.
Our Specialist Telenurses are all qualified nurses with training and experience to support men through a diagnosis, and provide information on everything from treatment options to management of side-effects and referrals to other health care professionals.
“The Prostate Cancer Specialist Telenursing Service was launched to meet an increasing demand for accessible prostate cancer services.”
In addition to other challenges, what is the impact of prostate cancer on the mental health of both patients and their families/caregivers?
Prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer in Australia, with over 24,000 men diagnosed with the disease every year.
With over 240,000 Australian men alive today after a prostate cancer diagnosis we know that one in five of those men will experience anxiety or depression as a result of their diagnosis. Of concern, patients also face a 70% increased risk of suicide death.
Right now, 72% of men also don’t seek support for their distress which urgently needs to change.
Our PCSNs, Telenurses and Counsellors are helping to address the problem and help reduce the distress experienced by men with prostate cancer and their loved ones.
“We know that one in five Australian men with a prostate cancer diagnosis will experience anxiety or depression as a result of their diagnosis.”
To which extent do you participate in events, such as Prostate Cancer Awareness Month in September?
Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is a major month on our calendar and we encourage people right across the globe to use it as an opportunity to help raise awareness of prostate cancer and encourage more men to speak to their doctors about their testing options.
People across the world can also join “The Long Run”, a unique challenge which encourages individuals and teams to run, walk or wheel 72 km throughout September to make a difference and help end the pain of prostate cancer. People can register here.
Many thanks for your time and for the interview.