This case study aims to facilitate the development of competencies that reflect the role of the Specialist Cancer Nurse (SCN) in managing disease and treatment related care for a person at risk of or diagnosed with prostate cancer across a cancer journey.
In 2014, it is estimated that prostate cancer will be the most common cancer diagnosed among Australian men (17,050 cases).6 At the end of 2009, it had the highest five-year prevalence of all cancers in Australia.6 The five-year relative survival rate for prostate cancer has significantly improved, increasing from 58.7% to 93% between the periods 1982-1987 and 2007-2011.6 Despite the improved survival statistics, prostate cancer follows lung cancer as the second leading cause of cancer death in men in 2012.6
There are many points along the cancer journey when the SCN can improve outcomes for people at risk of or affected by prostate cancer. These include:
Section 1: Reduce risk
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst Australian men, yet its exact aetiology is not well understood.
While a number of risk factors have been proposed as being important in the development of prostate cancer, including age and family history, there is limited evidence regarding lifestyle or behavioural risk factors. Public education about risks for prostate cancer needs to reflect contemporary, evidence-based messages.
Section 2: Find the condition early
The benefits of population screening for prostate cancer are at this time unproven.7
With no current formalised, population-based screening programs for prostate cancer in Australia, the SCN can play an important role in ensuring men are informed about the risks and benefits of screening tests and about signs and symptoms that should lead to health practitioner consultation.
Section 3: Have the best treatment and support during active treatment
Men diagnosed with prostate cancer face difficult treatment decisions. This is, in part, due to the lack of clear survival advantage of one treatment path over another.
In order to make an informed treatment decision, individuals need information about the benefits and harms of all treatment options. The SCN plays an important role in providing information and support to men making treatment decisions.
Treatments for prostate cancer can include surgery, radiotherapy, antineoplastic agents and androgen deprivation therapy, each of which can result in significant morbidity. The SCN has an important role in prevention, detection and management of these adverse effects.
Section 4: Have the best treatment and support between and after active treatment
Relative survival after diagnosis with prostate cancer is high compared with other cancers.6 However, men treated for prostate cancer require long-term follow up due to the unpredictable trajectory of the disease.
Following completion of treatment for prostate cancer men can experience significant adverse effects across all domains of their health.
The SCN can minimise the impact of these adverse effects with targeted supportive care strategies to ensure optimal quality of life outcomes.