A prostate cancer diagnosis is a distressing time for all involved. The long waiting times for results – 56 days on average – can be excruciating. Data published in 2017 in the British Journal of General Practitioners show that men wait four times longer to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than woman with breast cancer. The chance of having prostate cancer goes up as PSA level go up. PSA is the substance made by cells in the prostate gland.
Most men without prostate cancer have PSA levels under four nanogram per millilitre of blood.
When prostate cancer develops, the PSA level goes up, which is why men need to be tested for their PSA levels to check if it is in the danger zone. This is when the waiting game begins.
Eric Hounslow, who is now cancer free after suffering from prostate cancer, recalled his experience and said to Prostate Cancer UK: “It’s an extremely tense time, because so much rests on what they’re going to tell you.”
A new self-management programme allows men to contact their doctors and access PSA test results through an online system.
This new programme will not only give support to those waiting, it will also save the NHS costs.
Hounslow said: “Now I can give my blood at 9am and access the results myself later that day, saving me from all that stress every six months.”
Results released from a National Audit of Cancer Diagnosis showed that the average time it takes for a man to receive a diagnosis of prostate cancer in England is 56 days following referral, far longer than the average of 14 days for breast cancer.
University of Southampton researched and trialled the TrueNTH Supported Self-Management programme in five NHS Trusts.
The results from the three-year trial of over 2,500 men showed that the programme frees vital NHS resources, without worsening outcomes for the men involved.
Heather Blake, director of support and influencing said: “This research is a major achievement, proving that this remote, digital and self-managed model can deliver a high quality of care for men, while also giving clinical nurse specialists and consultants more time to focus on newly-diagnosed men.
“Even better, this model actually lowers per patient costs, making it a win-win for cash strapped NHS trusts.
“That’s why we want to se supported self-management schemes like this rolled out across the country.”
This new programs means a faster turnaround and quicker treatment and patients can access their appointments, medical details, personal information and surgery reports form anywhere in the world.
Other symptoms to look out for include:
- Blood in the urine
- Weak or interrupted urine flow
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frequent urination
- The urge to urinate at night
- Pain or burning during urination
- Discomfort or pain when sitting
Risk factors of prostate cancer include age, race and family history.
Lesley Smith from NHS England said: “As part of the NHS long term plan we want all patients with cancer to get the best possible follow-up care and support after treatment, and we are working with Cancer Alliances in every part of the country to make sure this happens.”