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Exploring an alternative management strategy for low-risk prostate cancer patients.

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer affecting Australian men. One in seven are men expected to receive a diagnosis by the age of 75.

The side effects for men being actively treated for prostate cancer (through surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy for example) can be ongoing and distressing. It can include urinary and bowel incontinence, alongside erectile and sexual dysfunction.

An alternative management strategy for low-risk prostate cancer is active surveillance. This involves monitoring the tumour’s progress regularly, and its survival outcomes are equivalent to patients receiving the more invasive treatment options. However, it can be challenging for men to consider surveillance versus active treatment when confronted with a diagnosis of cancer.

The Swinburne arm of the Navigate project is led by Professor Penny Schofield and explores an online treatment decision aid for men diagnosed with low-risk prostate cancer and their partners.

The project team has developed a website which presents evidence-based, unbiased lifestyle and wellness information and curative treatment options through to active surveillance. Participants and their partners can access an online exercise to clarify and integrate their values into their treatment decision-making. As a control, randomly selected participants will use the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia website for care decisions while the remainder use the Navigate website.

A self-reporting questionnaire at the beginning of the project and again at one, three and six months will allow assessment of the outcomes in the areas of:

  • decisional conflict
  • knowledge
  • distress
  • satisfaction
  • patient-partner communication
  • decisional regret
  • health care costs.

This project aims to help men understand the risks and benefits of each treatment option and to reduce confusion, distress and decisional regret, and increase understanding of treatment options and side-effects.

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