A NEW research program will aim to make a big difference in the lives of thousands of Australian men who are living with prostate cancer.
Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) chief executive Jeff Dunn and researchers will use millions of dollars in funding to trial a new care model for survivors of the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men.
Professor Dunn, a University of Southern Queensland behavioural scientist, has been awarded a $1.13 million grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Partnership.
The funding is set to be matched by local, national and international health partners, resulting in a total injection of $2.25 million into the research.
The trial will aim to improve the health and wellbeing of men who are on hormone therapy for prostate cancer.
Professor Dunn said the four-year project would provide hope to men who had been impacted by prostate cancer and their families.
"Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in Australian men, with more than 230,000 men alive today after a diagnosis," Professor Dunn said.
"While survival rates have never been better, we now have more men diagnosed with prostate cancer living much longer, therefore the focus on survivorship care after treatment has never been more important."
Between 30 and 50 per cent of men diagnosed with the disease undergo hormone therapy, but while it slows progression it comes with a number of side effects. Hormone therapy can cause loss of muscle mass and bone density, sexual dysfunction and chronic health conditions including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Professor Dunn said many men were also receiving insufficient support to meet their informational, psychological and sexual help needs.
"Compared to men with prostate cancer who are not on hormone therapy, these men are more likely to develop mental health issues such as depression and anxiety and are at a higher risk of suicide," he said.
"PCFA's Prostate Cancer Specialist Nursing Service has around 100 nurses nationwide who help those affected by prostate cancer at all stages."
Professor Dunn said the funding would be used to help the foundation in its bid to develop more tailored care for men on hormone therapy.
More than 200 men will participate in the trial. It will use an evidence-based framework developed by the University of Southern Queensland, in collaboration with the PCFA and NHMRC's Centre of Research Excellence in Prostate Cancer Survivorship.
Specially-trained PCFA nurses will deliver the trial, in the form of four telehealth sessions over a four-week period, with a booster session a month later.
Sessions will cover distress management strategies, decision support, treatment education and communicating with health professionals.
"If we prove this works, which we believe it will, our aim is to have this service made available to every man diagnosed with prostate cancer on hormone therapy," Professor Dunn said.
For more information click here.