Senior Specialist Nurse, Prostate Cancer UK
Head of Improving Care, Prostate Cancer UK
The current COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented pressures on the health service, and big drops in cancer referrals.
As the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, the drop-in referrals mean that there are potentially thousands of men with clinically significant prostate cancer who could be cured, but who may now not be diagnosed until curative treatment is no longer possible.
Men are still experiencing high levels of anxiety around attending medical appointments and need to be reassured that steps are being taken to minimise their exposure to COVID-19. As most men with prostate cancer don’t have any symptoms, they also need to be made aware of their risk factors and empowered to speak to their GP if they are at risk.
To help men find out whether they are at higher risk, the charity has launched an online risk checker, available at prostatecanceruk.org/check.
There is significant variation across the country in terms of delays to treatment, with many men contacting us concerned that they have been ‘forgotten about’.
There is significant variation across the country in terms of delays to treatment, with many men contacting us concerned that they have been ‘forgotten about’ in the crisis. Good communication is vital for these men, who may simply need reassuring that their individual risk is considered and that there is a low risk of harm from delays.
It is also essential that those most at risk of harm are prioritised as treatments resume, and that new approaches are found that minimise potential exposure to COVID-19.
Planning to rebuild
Many healthcare professionals are finding new digital ways of running clinics that help avoid the viral risk, transport costs, and long waits in crowded rooms for routine appointments. The legacy of this should be greater adoption of risk stratified personalised follow-up pathways to ensure that no man is forgotten, such as the TrueNORTH Supported Self-Management programme.1
A common thread through these issues is the power of effective communication with men. Men need support to understand their risk, their diagnostic and treatment pathways and how these may be changing as a result of COVID-19, if they are to feel confident engaging with these pathways. This engagement is more important than ever if we are to avoid the COVID-19 crisis becoming a prostate cancer crisis.
Men and their clinicians can also contact Prostate Cancer UK’s specialist nurses on 0800 074 8383 or online via the live chat instant messaging service: www.prostatecanceruk.org
This article was composed in coordination with Trends in Urology and Men’s Health and the team at Prostate Cancer UK.
 Frankland J, Brodie H, Cooke D, et al. Follow-up care after treatment for prostate cancer: evaluation of a supported self-management and remote surveillance programme. BMC Cancer 2019;19(1):368. doi.org/10.1186/s12885-019-5561-0.