MEN seeking treatment for prostate cancer in the Limestone Coast will receive extra support closer to home with a new dedicated prostate cancer nursing role recently funded in the region.
A specialist nurse will work about 20 hours a week to coordinate care for prostate cancer patients, including managing treatment side effects and long-term recovery.
The Federal Government will invest $23m into its Prostate Cancer Nurses Program over the next three years to support over 40 dedicated prostate cancer nurses around the nation, with around $185,000 being allocated to create the Mount Gambier-based role.
Operating from Mount Gambier’s Country Health Connect facility, better care in the community coordinator Tony Potts said patients across the region would benefit.
The move follows lobbying from the Limestone Coast and Naracoorte prostate cancer support groups.
“It really is about making a more robust support system for men living with prostate cancer and helping them deal with it,” Mr Potts said.
“At the moment it often comes down to chance and it should not have to.
“The nurse will be there through the whole journey for a client and their family from his diagnosis, treatment evaluation, post-surgery and just general help.”
As a prostate cancer survivor, Limestone Coast Prostate Cancer Support Group chairman Richard Harry said the initial diagnosis was often overwhelming and difficult, especially if people were not given clarity about treatment options.
“These nurses are a very important tool for people to use when making their treatment,” Mr Harry said.
“With one going to be based in Mount Gambier, men right across the Limestone Coast will have a far better chance having access to a nurse and will hopefully be able to understand their situation more thoroughly.”
Prostate cancer is believed to be the third most common cause of cancer deaths in Australia, claiming around 3150 lives each year.
Mr Potts said the funding held a special place in his heart with his father experiencing a battle with prostate cancer.
“My dad had prostate cancer and the surgeon advised him to have surgery. My dad did not realise there were a whole lot of side effects which go with that,” he said.
“He died with his prostate cancer 10 years later, not from it because it was such a slow grower because he was able to go through other options without the side effects.
“It is so important people receive all the information before they make the decision.”
Limestone Coast Local Health Network community and allied health acting executive director Yasir Arfat said the hospital was grateful for the funding through the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.
“The new position will play a vital role in coordinating the care of men living with prostate cancer and will include managing side-effects and symptoms of treatment, as well as providing support through recovery,” Mr Arfat said.
Mr Arfat confirmed the network was in the progress of advertising for the new position.
Member for Barker Tony Pasin – who has lobbied for the funding at a federal level – said the new position built on the announcement the Limestone Coast would be one of 13 sites across the country to receive new radiation therapy services.
“So many Australian men and their families have had their lives turned upside down by prostate cancer, so I’m very pleased they will have the support of these specialised nurses now and into the future,” Mr Pasin said.
“This funding sends a message to men with prostate cancer they do not have to face this terrible disease alone.”
Meanwhile, Limestone Coast fundraising is continuing for a transperineal biopsy machine, which will offer best possible practice biopsies for suspected prostate cancer patients in the region.
The $207,000 price tag will largely be met by donations, with Mount Gambier Hospital to take possession of the equipment by the end of the year.