Rates of distress among rural and remote patients following prostate cancer diagnoses are much higher than they’re metropolitan counterparts, data suggests.
Men from small towns can feel forced to make life and death decisions about leaving home for treatment, and the idea of abandoning jobs, farms and family can lead to anxiety, the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia says.
About 25 per cent of men who called the foundation’s support line from country Australia were found to have severe distress, compared with six per cent from metro or major regional centres.
The foundation takes almost 300 calls a month from men and family members in need of support, chief executive Anne Savage says.
While 66 per cent of calls to the nursing line come from city areas, a disproportionately high number originate from small towns and outback areas.
Concerns include what the diagnosis means, how to tell their partners and the best way to navigate treatment options.
“Men with prostate cancer have a 70 per cent increased risk of suicide death, and in regional areas men also face a 24 per cent increased risk of death from their prostate cancer,” she said.
“We have approached the federal government about working with us to overcome these challenges, so that all Australian men have a fairer go at fighting prostate cancer.”
An early diagnosis could help to overcome psychological issues people face when trying to manage the disease, general manager of supportive care programs Bernard Riley said.
“For this to happen, we urgently need a review of the Clinical Practice Guidelines on PSA Testing, and we hope to make it happen soon, pending federal government support,” Mr Riley said.
Prostate cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Australian men, with one man diagnosed every 30 minutes.