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Caring for prostate cancer patients

Although not without its challenges, the appropriate care and support available to patients with prostate cancer is gradually evolving. It’s important not to overlook the all too often ‘unsung heroes’ of prostate cancer; those who care for the patients. Associate Consultant Frances Peters takes a look at the issues and concerns facing the caregivers of those with prostate cancer.
Cancer Research UK estimates that men in the UK have a 1 in 8 chance of developing prostate cancer at some point in their lives. It’s the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and campaigns such as ‘Movember’ have been effective in raising awareness worldwide. Although not without its challenges, the appropriate care and support available to patients is gradually evolving. But it’s important not to overlook the all too often ‘unsung heroes’ of prostate cancer; those who care for the patients.

Associate Consultant Frances Peters takes a look at the issues and concerns facing the caregivers of those with prostate cancer. 

The importance of the carer’s role 

A patient’s caregiver can be a friend, family member, partner, or a healthcare professional (such as a live-in nurse), so their needs and challenges could be wide and varied. For the purpose of this article, I will focus on patients’ partners as the caregivers. 

From a personal perspective, I’ve watched my grandfather receive his diagnosis of prostate cancer. I’ve watched him cope brilliantly, receive exceptional treatment, and continue to live a relatively normal life. The process has been a testament to the care available in the UK and to my grandad himself. What I’ve also seen is my grandmother going through the whole process with him, working tirelessly in the background to make her husband better. 

A recent pan-European study titled ‘Prostate Cancer – Living, not just surviving’ investigated the unmet needs of patients and their caregivers across ten different countries. It indicated that the patient’s partner tends to be the person in the family most involved with the management of the disease.

“I never see any patient without his partner. Women are much better at asking questions, in understanding, in being assertive when it comes to defending the health of their husband, much better than the patient. You should always see the patient and the partner together. This is the basic rule for getting the best results.” Professor Louis Denis, Onco-urologist

The impact of prostate cancer on the carer

According to the ‘Prostate Cancer – Living, not just surviving’ survey, 34% of caregivers reported that their hobbies and personal activities were most affected by the patients’ disease. Furthermore, 39% of patients agree that their partner is the person in their family most negatively impacted by their disease. 
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16th March 2017

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