Psychological Care for Men with Prostate Cancer

“There is clear evidence that psychological interventions for men with prostate cancer are effective in improving prostate cancer survivorship outcomes. Yet ameliorating psychological distress to improve outcomes is not yet a standard part of medical treatment for prostate cancer.”

— Professor Suzanne Chambers, AO

This website is for health professionals involved in diagnosing, treating, and caring for men with prostate cancer.

Worldwide there are millions of men living with a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Their survival rates are high because of medical advances, but quality of life in survivorship is reported by far too many as poor. Compared with men in the general population, men with prostate cancer are twice as likely to experience depression and three times more likely to experience anxiety. They have a 70% greater risk of suicide.

Such significant levels of psychological distress can compromise a man’s physical health, decision-making, communication with health professionals, and ability to effectively use patient support networks. Yet this level of distress is often hidden from healthcare providers. Asking for psychological help does not come naturally to many men. Research has even shown that men who say to their doctor they will take action in the face of dealing with prostate cancer are actually those who are least likely to seek help.

That is why proactive psychological intervention for men at diagnosis and while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer is as vital as the drugs, surgery and other medical treatments that save their lives.

But how do we integrate psychological care for prostate cancer into a multidisciplinary treatment setting or a urology or general practice? Doctors don’t often have the time in the midst of a consultation to provide individualised support to help a man explore emotions and cognitions in response to their cancer. It is this psychological examination that determines whether a man and his partner find a better way forward or fall further into distress.

Yet using generalised mental health support approaches ignores the specific needs of men with prostate cancer. Which is why an easy to implement yet powerful tool was developed out of decades of world leading psych-oncology research and practice in prostate cancer by Professor Suzanne Chambers AO and colleagues — the Facing the Tiger Psychological Care Approach. It can be quickly implemented within a medical setting without the need for extra staff and emphasises the use of the Australian-developed Psychosocial Care Model for Men with Prostate Cancer and the Prostate Cancer Survivorship Essentials Framework

Here’s how it works.

 

“My passion is health care: health outcomes drive and direct the quality of life of individuals and their families, as well as the health and vitality of the communities in which we live.”

— Professor Suzanne Chambers AO