If you had asked me a month ago what I knew about prostate cancer, I would have said “didn’t that fictional character Adrian Mole have it?”, and then quickly add that it was mentioned in an A&P lecture- so I’m not an expert. If a patient or relative had asked me, it would have been an awkward moment for everyone. So as March is prostate cancer awareness month, maybe its time to spread the knowledge! As the most common cancer for men, its key for any budding student nurse to know their stuff.
My pathway of prostate cancer knowledge began with an afternoon shadowing a specialist Urology nurse. I sat and watched the patients come and go, lapping up the constant information that was being thrown at me.
Firstly, you have to identify the cancer through a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test (which should be performed regularly for men over 50!). PSA is a protein produced by cancer cells, so can help early detection. There’s loads more information about the tests available here, the same information from the leaflet I was given on placement!
The next step is treatment. I had no idea that the usual first action to prevent the cancer from spreading is steroid injections. These prevent the production of Testosterone, which would otherwise fuel the cancerous cell growth. With this treatment, you can carry on a relatively normal life! I met a patient who was diagnosed quite young and carried on working.
The last, and most important step, is support. Cancer does change your life, so its super important to be able to talk to people in similar situations. Talking is some of the best treatment you can get. The nurse I was shadowing was a keen champion of support groups, and made sure that every patient knew where there closest one was.