Dr Anish Kotecha provides guidance on gaining a greater understanding of the disease, recognising the symptoms and supporting the patient
Just under 50,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year in the United Kingdom making it the most common cancer in men. Prostate cancer survival has continued to improve over the years. More than 80% of men diagnosed with prostate cancer will survive for more than 10 years now.
This learning module will help you recognise the symptoms of prostate cancer, as well as understand the treatments and the role of the nurse in caring for the patient.
Unusually, prostate cancer doesn’t typically cause many symptoms. This is because they tend to start in the outer part of the gland, and symptoms would normally arise from pressing on the urethra (the tube taking urine from the bladder).
Symptoms caused by an enlargement of the prostate gland (usually from older age) include urinary frequency, nocturia, urinary urgency, haematuria or haematospermia, weaker flow of urine, incomplete emptying of the bladder and straining to urinate
Treatment of prostate cancer is very much dependent on how large the cancer is and the PSA level, the type of cancer and the grade of cancer and whether it has spread.
Nurses will likely get involved in looking after men with prostate cancer. This may take different forms including blood tests for PSA monitoring or giving regular hormone injections. They may also have a much more intense involvement if the patient is palliative with visiting the patient at home, supporting the family or carers, having advance care planning discussions and assessing them for symptom control.
Sometimes when the cancer is not curable, the focus turns to keeping people comfortable. This allows a palliative approach, and the importance then changes to establishing the person’s biggest priorities and working to achieve them.
Possible topics to try and cover would include their wishes on resuscitation, where they’d like to be cared for and where they might like to die, if they have any specific wishes towards the end of their life, if they would like to advocate for someone to make decisions for them if they become unable to and if they have any specific psychological, social or spiritual needs.
- Prostate cancer is relatively common, and it is important to carry out initial tests and refer to specialists promptly
- Talking to people about the advantages and disadvantages of the PSA test is important
- Treatment depends on many factors, but the person should always be at the centre of the conversation
Dr Anish Kotecha, a GP partner in a surgery in South Wales and MacMillian GP facilitator.
Finding this module
The full module can be found on the Nursing in Practice Learning website.
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