Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff members Amiee Pearce and Vicki Connole. Picture: Contributed
Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff members Amiee Pearce and Vicki Connole. Picture: Contributed

Specialist prostate cancer nurse coming to Mackay

EVERY three days, a Mackay man is diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But they will soon have access to more support as Mackay is expected to receive its first dedicated prostate cancer specialist nurse by November.

The nurse will work across cancer treatment, surgical and perioperative services at both the Mackay Base Hospital and Icon Cancer Centre to support patients from the diagnosis stage through to treatment and beyond.

The nurse is one of 24 that will be employed across Australia as part of the government’s $23 million expansion of the Prostate Cancer Nurses Program via the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

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Icon Group medical director and Mackay haematologist Dr Ian Irving said the nurse will help patients to access reliable information and manage side effects from the treatment.

“Research has found men often don’t seek support following a prostate cancer diagnosis, which is a time when they need it most,” Dr Irving said.

“Our prostate cancer nurse will help make this challenging experience easier for these men and their loved ones by supporting their individual needs with personalised care, wherever they are in their cancer journey.

“A cancer diagnosis is a difficult and emotional time and that is why we are committed to making a difference to every patient who comes through our doors.”

Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff (from left): Rose Coote, Robyn Black, Brooke Scott, Tegan Stark, Jaimi Dawson and Yvette Watts. Picture: Contributed
Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff (from left): Rose Coote, Robyn Black, Brooke Scott, Tegan Stark, Jaimi Dawson and Yvette Watts. Picture: Contributed

Like Dr Irving, PCFA CEO Professor Jeff Dunn said he was proud the organisations had worked together to fund a specialist nurse.

“About one in five men with prostate cancer experience long-term anxiety and depression and some will have an increased risk of suicide, although few seek support for their mental health needs,” Professor Dunn said.

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By 2040, prostate cancer is forecast to affect more Australians than any other cancer, representing a 68 per cent increase on today’s numbers.

Australia has one of the highest rates of prostate cancer in the world, with one in every six Australian men likely to be diagnosed by age 85.

PCFA Director of Nursing Programs Sally Sara said the specialist nurse would give Mackay men “greater confidence” to navigate the disease’s challenges.

Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff (from left): Jaimi Dawson, Rose Coote, Brooke Scott, Yvette Watts, Robyn Black and Tegan Stark.
Icon Cancer Centre Mackay staff (from left): Jaimi Dawson, Rose Coote, Brooke Scott, Yvette Watts, Robyn Black and Tegan Stark.

“It’s common for patients to struggle with understanding their treatment options and many are unable to access evidence-based information about the pros and cons of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment or hormonal therapy,” Ms Sara said.

Mackay Hospital and Health Service Chief Executive Jo Whitehead said the nurse’s “guiding hand” would help “lighten the load of patients and their loved ones”.

“We know that good support and connection to information and services is as important as the medical treatment.”


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