Despite 1 in 4 Australian men experiencing a prostate cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, the subject is still very much a taboo.
Many men are too embarrassed to discuss their diagnosis and what it means, even with their doctor.
This can leave them feeling distant and not making informed decisions about their treatment. It also means family and friends are left feeling helpless and uneducated about the disease and what their loved one is going through.
But now there is help available online. Last year Australian Prostate Cancer helped to fund PROSTMATE, a confidential online portal for prostate cancer sufferers, their family and friends to access.
It provides tools to track progress, treatments and appointments, self-help modules to enhance health and wellbeing. It also has online tele-health consultation where patients and their partners can connect to prostate cancer experts from the comfort of their own home.
PROSTMATE Coordinator David Blashki said since its launch November the site has already been accessed by more than 2000 people.
“The need for this revolutionary program was identified by men with prostate cancer who can struggle to navigate all facets of their treatment,” he said.
The program helps encourage and empower men and their families to take greater control by teaching them about early intervention strategies. It also gives information that will help them make decisions about new or ongoing treatment and options for advanced prostate cancer management.
“The program provides reliable, up-to-date information for patients and their families and access to experts via online tele-health consultations,” Mr Blashki said.
“It also overcomes the barriers faced by men in regional and remote areas of Australia. Patients will be able to access this from anywhere and in the privacy of their own home.”
The launch of this program may also mean other cancer sufferers are helped.
“Based on the research data collected from patients and the impact PROSTMATE can make in prostate cancer, there is potential for similar online programs to be developed to support patients with other cancers.”