Men with prostate cancer often experience issues such as erectile dysfunction, impaired sperm production, incontinence and depression, and need someone to talk to who understands what they are going through.
Cancer Council Victoria, in partnership with MensLine Australia, will launch a new telephone support group for men with prostate cancer and their carers next month.
Funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and beyondblue: the national depression initiative, this program will provide an opportunity for people to share experiences and coping strategies.
Deputy Director of the Cancer Information and Support Service, Dr Amanda Hordern, said that the service would provide much needed support to the 3,700 Victorian men and their families affected by the disease each year.
"The telephone support groups will be available for men with advanced prostate cancer, younger men diagnosed with prostate cancer, as well as family and carers of men who are facing day-to-day life with prostate cancer," Dr Hordern said.
"The program gives people affected by the disease the opportunity to talk to others who have been through a similar experience and discuss common cancer issues such as its affect on relationships, coping with treatments and side effects.
"Programs like this can help reduce feelings of isolation and connect prostate cancer patients and their family members with others around the State," she said.
Each group will comprise 6-8 people and will be delivered via teleconference for the cost of a local call only.
Groups will be professionally facilitated, meeting weekly for around an hour over a period of six weeks, with all information shared being confidential.
Secretary to Cancer Voices Victoria, Dr Ian Roos, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer some years ago, today welcomed the initiative.
"People with prostate cancer may at many times feel depressed and concerned about what the future holds," he said.
"Speaking to others who have been through similar experiences will help with these concerns about future prospects.
"Men are used to using the teleconference system for work-related purposes and our research shows that it would be a good way for them to discuss prostate cancer issues," Dr Roos said.
The launch of the new service will coincide with Prostate Awareness Month, which takes place in September.
"We have a vision to expand this program nationally after we see how it goes in Victoria, especially given that an estimated 18,700 Australians are diagnosed with the cancer each year," Dr Hordern said.
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Prostate cancer facts
- Prostate cancer kills more men than any other cancer in Victoria.
- In Victoria, almost 800 men die of prostate cancer each year, whilst almost 3000 die from it across the country.
- It is estimated that 18,700 Australian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer each year.
- 66% of men who had undergone prostate surgery in the past 12 months experienced urinary incontinence which significantly affected their quality of life.
- Prostate cancer occurs mainly in men aged over 65 years. It is very rare under 45 years, and not very common in men under 55.
- The prostate is a small gland about the size of a golf ball that sits just below the bladder. It is found only in men. It sits just below the bladder and surrounds part of the urethra, the tube that takes urine from the bladder to outside the body. The prostate produces some of the fluid that makes up semen. The growth of the prostate depends on the male sex hormone, testosterone, which is made by the testes.
- The exact causes of prostate cancer are unknown, however the chance of getting prostate cancer increases:
- As you get older: more than half of all new prostate cancers affect men over the age of 70
- If your father or a brother had prostate cancer, especially at an early age. Your risk is higher if you have more than one relative affected in this way