November 26, 2004

New Approach to Prostate Cancer

Nurses can lead the drive to improve services for men and their carers

Next week nurses from across the UK will join other healthcare professionals, patients and their families, support groups, researchers and the media at a unique national conference on prostate cancer.

As lead nurse for the Prostate Cancer Charity helpline, which receives more than 14,000 calls a year, I am only too aware how important this cause is. Prostate cancer is now the leading male cancer. Each year in the UK it kills 10,000 men, and 27,000 more are diagnosed with the disease. But awareness is still low.

Nurses who work in this field might agree with me that services for people with cancer have begun to improve in the UK. Stark challenges remain, however, if we are to address the complex needs of men, who have this cancer, and their families. Many nurses who contact us via the helpline say they feel frustrated by their patient's experience of prostate cancer and the lack of awareness.

The conference will highlight some essential changes we must tackle collectively if men are to receive the support, care and treatment they need. These include reducing inequalities, such as age discrimination and postcode prescribing, and improving access to quality information on topics such as prostatespecific antigen testing. We also need support and choices at every stage.

This event will give us a chance to hear the patients' perspectives in a non-clinical setting. Until recently prostate cancer was poorly understood by the public. Now nurses can be at the forefront of change, so that men's experience of this disease is the best possible in the circumstances

The national prostate cancer conference, A Call for Action: The Time for Change, will be held in London on November 9. For more information, call Vanessa Cripps on 0208 222 7622 or visit

Tania Ross is lead nurse of the Prostate Cancer Charity nurse- fed helpline: 0845 300 8383

Copyright RCN Publishing Company Ltd. Nov 3-Nov 9, 2004