15 June 2020
Thousands of Australian men with prostate cancer and their families will benefit from an expansion of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia’s Prostate Cancer Nurses Program. 24 new nurses will be recruited in new locations around Australia over the next 12 months, with an additional 15 nurses starting from June 2021.
The new nurses will be recruited using a new Federal funding grant for the program, which is also supported by community donations. Health Minister Greg Hunt made the announcement jointly with PCFA.
“Prostate cancer is estimated to be the second most common cause of cancer death in Australian men, with an estimated 3,152 deaths. Sadly, more than 16,700 Australian men are expected to be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year,” Minister Hunt said.
“Since 2013, this program has funded the recruitment, training and placement of prostate cancer nurses in 29 locations across the country. The 2020–21 round of funding will employ nurses at 24 health services or cancer centres.”
PCFA CEO, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, commended the Government for its investment.
“About one in five men with prostate cancer experience long-term anxiety and depression and some will have an increased risk of suicide, although few seek support for their mental health needs. These nurses play a critical role in providing guidance, care and support,” he said.
“Of concern to the growing burden of prostate cancer on the Australian community, men with a family history of prostate cancer have double the risk of being diagnosed, and men in regional and rural areas of Australia face a 24 per cent higher risk of death – this investment is vital to ensure our fathers and sons don’t die before their time.”
About 13,000 Australian men and families currently lack access to specialist prostate cancer nursing support, a number set to grow if no action is taken.
“We simply don’t have enough nurses to meet demand,” Prof Dunn said.
“By 2040 we predict there will be 372,000 men living with or beyond prostate cancer in Australia, representing a 76 per cent increase from 211,000 today and the greatest number of men or women diagnosed with any single cancer. Without investment in new nurses and telenursing services to reach those in need, many thousands of men will be denied access to specialist support.”
Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed by age 85. PCFA’s Director of Nursing Programs, Sally Sara, welcomed the Federal funding boost.
“Every 25 minutes, one of our fathers, sons or brothers will hear the news he has prostate cancer. What many people don’t realise is exactly how tough it is to live with a disease that robs you of your dignity – leaving many men incontinent and suffering from erectile dysfunction and psychological distress. Whilst we have one of the best health care systems in the world, many men with prostate cancer will continue to miss out on specialist nursing support.
“It’s common for patients to struggle with understanding their treatment options and many are unable to access evidence-based information about the pros and cons of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment or hormonal therapy. It’s a tragic fact that on any given day men with prostate cancer are already at a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide compared to the general population. These men deserve our support,” Mrs Sara said.
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PCFA contact: Anne Savage, Head of Advocacy & Strategy, 0417 709 869