What can nurses do improve men’s awareness of the early symptoms of prostate cancer?
The actor Ben Stiller has revealed in an article in The Daily Telegraph (The Daily Telegraph, 2016) that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2014, and, now cancer free, attributes his survival to early diagnosis achieved by prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing provided by his doctor.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting in men in the UK; one in 9 men will contract it, causing 11, 287 deaths in 2013 (Cancer Research UK, 2016). This is a similar statistic to women suffering from breast cancer and their families, but unlike breast cancer, prostate cancer receives far less media coverage.
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Public awareness of the disease, although improving, is still limited (Prostate Cancer Charity, 2010). This is despite the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month initiative, which takes place every November and aims to inform the UK public about diagnosis, symptoms and treatment, as well as direct sufferers to support available within the voluntary sector (Prostate Cancer UK, 2016).
So how can nurses help raise awareness, and encourage men to request a PSA test if they have symptoms or are at higher risk of developing the disease? The Prostate Cancer Charity appears to have hit upon an ideal solution by appointing a prostate cancer specialist nurse (Suresh Rambaran) to work with particularly high risk communities, such as African Caribbean men. Suresh plays a vital role in raising awareness by forging important alliances between the voluntary/ community sector and health professionals, helping to remove the stigma associated with the disease perceived by some groups and spreading information (Davis, 2009). He achieves this in innovative ways, working with writers to run ‘storytelling’ sessions, which introduce humour to help overcome the stigma and myths associated with the disease. On the basis of this initiative, which has now been extended to recruit additional specialist nurses, nurses have demonstrated their ability to make a significant difference to awareness and promote early diagnosis of prostate cancer by connecting with communities beyond their healthcare settings.
Cancer Research UK., 2016. Prostate Cancer Statistics [online] available at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/prostate-cancer accessed 9th October 2016
Davis, C., 2009. Increasing awareness of prostate cancer: Suresh Rambaran tells Carol Davis about the importance of working with African Caribbean community groups to dispel the myths and taboos surrounding the disease. Cancer Nursing Practice, 8(5), pp.12-15.
Prostate Cancer UK, 2016. Movember. [online] available at http://prostatecanceruk.org/about-us/movember accessed 10th October 2016
The Daily Telegraph, 2016. Stiller: prostate cancer test saved my life. The Daily Telegraph, 5th October 2016, p. 4
The Prostate Cancer Charity, (2010a) 2010 Prostate Cancer Survey Results. Prostate Cancer Charity,
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