Receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer is a major life stress for most men and their loved ones. Suddenly, the things that matter most seem threatened and it is very normal to experience a wide range of feelings and emotions.
Sometimes you may feel more distressed than at other times. Your feelings might be more intense while waiting for test results, making treatment decisions or just before commencing treatment. Side effects from treatment may also cause stress and upset. After treatment, you may worry about the cancer returning.
Today, there are over 220,000 men living after a diagnosis of prostate cancer. For most men the long-term outlook is very good - relative to the general population and considering other causes of death, 95% of men with prostate cancer will survive at least five years after diagnosis and 91% of men with prostate cancer will survive 10 years or more.
To help improve the lives of men living with prostate cancer, there is a need for more evidence-based strategies to help them manage the challenges of living with the disease. There is growing evidence that mindfulness is one strategy that can be used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian men, with about 17,000 men newly diagnosed each year. For most men the long-term outlook is very good - relative to the general population and considering other causes of death, 95% of men with prostate cancer will survive at least five years after diagnosis and 91% of men with prostate cancer will survive 10 years or more. Today there are around 220,000 Australian men alive after a diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Of concern to our mission, for men who develop advanced prostate cancer, the outlook is not as good. Prostate cancer kills more than 3,000 men in Australia every year, representing about 12% of all male deaths from cancer. So, what is advanced prostate cancer, how is it detected and how is it treated?
If you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your overall health and fitness can impact your treatment options, as well as influencing how you physically recover from surgery and other types of therapy. Maintaining a healthy weight is key, a point backed up by new Australian research.
Medicare data suggests that up to 21% of Australian men aged 45–74 choose to have a Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) Test each year, and about 19% of men aged over 74 also undergo testing.
While PSA testing helps to identify men with an increased risk of undiagnosed prostate cancer, and can help to diagnose prostate cancers earlier, it can also produce false positive results, and in some men picks up cancers that are so slow growing that they do not affect a man’s life expectancy, a finding known as over-diagnosis. False positives and over-diagnosis can cause harm, which means men and their doctors need to carefully consider the pros and cons of testing, based on each man’s age and other individual characteristics.
For men with no family history of prostate cancer and no symptoms, the current guidelines recommend that men who decide to undergo regular testing should be offered PSA testing every two years from age 50 to 69.
For men with a family history of prostate cancer who decide to undergo testing, the guidelines recommend men be offered PSA testing every two years from age 40/45 to 69, with the starting age depending on the strength of their family history.
If you have low risk prostate cancer, Active Surveillance is increasingly being recommended as a management option for your disease, in order to avoid unnecessary and invasive treatments when it is clinically safe to do so. Estimates suggest about 60% of low risk prostate cancers in Australia are managed with Active Surveillance.
So, what is Active Surveillance, and is it a good treatment option for you?
A world-first international prostate cancer quality of life study has been carried out by prostate cancer patients themselves. This is the largest study ever conducted by patients and its findings suggest that the different types of treatment for prostate cancer have differing impacts on quality of life. The study suggests that significant numbers of men struggle with urinary incontinence and sexual problems after treatment and that the impact on their quality of life may be greater than previously thought.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has just released the latest figures on prostate cancer incidence, mortality, and survival in Australia.
The trends over time are different to the trends we see for many other types of cancer, including a decreasing number of diagnoses since 2009, when cases peaked in Australia. In that year, 22,146 cases were diagnosed, compared to 16,741 cases expected to be diagnosed this year. With an ageing and increasing population, we might ordinarily expect to see the number of men diagnosed increase, but this has not been the case.
What if a simple blood test could predict the effectiveness of a treatment for metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC)? A recent Australian study suggests this is a possibility. Using a blood test, researchers were able to detect circulating cell free DNA and RNA for altered androgen receptors in the blood of men with mCRPC. Men who had altered androgen receptor DNA or RNA in their blood had a poor response to treatment.
Alarming new research has revealed about 70 per cent of Australians don’t know the signs and symptoms of prostate cancer, prompting Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia to call for greater public investment in targeted community awareness activities.
The findings have been reported in the Not All Prostate Cancer is the Same report, released by the Prostate Cancer Patient Coalition – Asia Pacific (PCPC).
In a recent study, researchers have found that not all high-grade prostate cancers are the same. The research examined Gleason grade group 5 prostate cancers which are associated with aggressive disease and poor outcome and found that some cancers of this type were more aggressive then others based on differing patterns of gene expression. This is important work that may one day help clinicians decide how best to treat different subgroups of Gleason grade group 5 prostate cancers. The advantage of this is that men with less aggressive cancers may be spared the side effects of intensive treatment while those with more aggressive cancers receive intensive and more targeted treatment.
In one giant leap for advanced prostate cancer, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has this week approved two new PARP inhibitors for the treatment of metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancers which have specific genetic mutations.
Professor Alimonti’s team examined the medical records of 9280 patients (4532 were men) with confirmed COVID-19 infection registered on 1st April 2020. The data were from 68 different hospitals in Veneto, one of the regions hardest hit by the disease in Italy. The information collected about these patients included gender, hospitalisation, admission to intensive care unit, death, tumour diagnosis, prostate cancer diagnosis, and androgen-deprivation therapy (ADT).
The increasing use of PSMA PET scans to image prostate cancer means that metastatic prostate cancer can be detected and targeted more effectively. For a specific type of metastatic disease, known as oligometastatic prostate cancer, emerging evidence suggests that treating the individual oligometastatic sites of disease by metastasis directed therapy (MDT) could delay both the progression of the cancer and the need for androgen deprivation therapy.
In a ground-breaking discovery for men with aggressive prostate cancer, Australian scientists have found a new way to make prostate cancer cells that have spread to bone more visible, so that the immune system can more easily recognise and kill them.
We are in the middle of global pandemic that has escalated very rapidly. The whole world has had to shift its focus to managing this disease. Medical professionals, scientists, biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies, government and non-government health bodies are all working together to fight this coronavirus outbreak.
A ground-breaking new Australian trial funded by PCFA has tested the benefits of PSMA-PET scans used at diagnosis. Results show that these scans can replace the current CT and bone scans used by men with high-risk prostate cancer at their time of diagnosis. This week’s research blog asks why this trial is ground-breaking and how it could change clinical practice.
For men with localised prostate cancer, the decision between different treatment and active surveillance options is a very important one. These men want to know their risks of difficult side effects from these options. New research from the US has created a web-based prediction tool for side effects to help men and their doctors in making this decision.
Diagnosis with prostate cancer leads to a wide range of emotions such as fear, anxiety and helplessness. Many men with prostate cancer turn to online groups for help. Online support groups and online communities are a source of information, shared experiences and empowerment for people affected by cancer. A new Australian study has analysed publicly-available conversations from online support groups to track discussions of emotional distress.
Australian professional and volunteer firefighters do a brave and difficult job. Their recent efforts during the 2019-2020 bushfire season have saved many lives. But there is evidence that firefighters have an increased risk of some cancers. Are our firefighters more likely to get prostate cancer?
Difficulty sleeping is a common issue for men with prostate cancer, yet it’s rarely discussed. The symptoms of prostate cancer, side effects of treatments and other issues associated with the disease may be causing sleep problems. This week’s research blog looks at some of the latest research studying sleep for men with prostate cancer.
Men with prostate cancer have stepped up to provide support to their peers in the community, where the healthcare system is lagging behind. Support group leaders are dedicated volunteers with many years’ experience in supporting prostate cancer survivors. A new Australian study has interviewed these experts to hear their priorities for prostate cancer survivorship care.
Hormone therapy is a very effective treatment for prostate cancer, but the side effects are usually difficult to manage. New Australian research has analysed the benefits of exercise for bones and muscles. The trial asked whether starting an exercise program at the same time as starting hormone therapy was better than delaying exercise.
Surgery to remove a prostate tumour can have devastating effects on a man’s ability to have sex. Many men try devices and medications such as Viagra to help them have sex after surgery. This week’s research blog discusses the help available to achieve erections and the latest research comparing erection medications.
Prostate tumours that have spread to the bones cause pain and have a major impact on quality-of-life. They can also lead to serious issues such as spinal compression. New research from the UK has addressed the best way to treat and prevent spinal compression using radiotherapy for men with prostate cancer.
Biopsies are an important step in prostate cancer diagnosis. Improving the accuracy of biopsies could therefore improve the diagnosis process. An exciting new study from The Netherlands has developed an AI (artificial intelligence) to improve the analysis of biopsy tissue and Gleason grading.
Precision medicine for cancer means that the treatment most likely to help the patient is chosen based on test results. This approach is closer to reality for prostate cancer with exciting clinical trial results from 2019. The latest good news comes from a trial linking the benefits of Olaparib (Lynparza) with alterations in DNA repair genes.
Keytruda is an immunotherapy drug that has revolutionised treatment for cancers such as melanoma and lung cancer. Unfortunately, the same level of success has not been seen for prostate cancer. Now a new study has some hopeful results, showing a small proportion of men with late-stage prostate cancer will benefit from Keytruda.
Pelvic floor muscles control the bladder and the flow of urine. Exercising these muscles can help men regain control over urine flow after prostate surgery. New research from Australia has defined an effective pelvic floor exercise program that starts before surgery.