Creating a new NHS England: Health Education England, NHS Digital and NHS England have merged. Learn more.
East of England leads the way with digital game changer for prostate cancer patients
Newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients in the east of England are the first in the country to be offered direct access to personalised treatment options through a game-changing web portal.
The new web resource, Knowing Your Options, has been developed by the East of England Cancer Alliances – which work as part of the NHS to transform cancer services across the region – along with local hospital specialist teams and patients.
The launch coincides with the build-up to World Cancer Day this Saturday, 4 February, on the theme of “close the care gap” – see the official website of World Cancer Day by UICC | 4 February.
Across the east of England, more than 6,000 men are affected by prostate cancer every year – one of the highest rates in the UK.
The new resource allows newly diagnosed patients, faced with a number of different treatment options, to enter their own personal cancer metrics, such as PSA and other test results, into a secure web link that analyses their data and sets out their full range of options, with risks and benefits specific to that person.
With prostate cancer, there are often a number of treatment options that are equally recommended in terms of survival rates but with very different impacts on quality of life.
The interactive algorithm matches an individual’s diagnostic data against the recommended treatment options as published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and sets out the treatment options for that person – along with risks and side effects – allowing them to make better informed decisions about their care.
The new web device can be used for all newly-diagnosed prostate cancer patients except where the cancer has spread (i.e. metastatic) or has returned.
Treatment for prostate cancer will depend on individual circumstances with a wide range of treatment options available, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormone treatment, or symptom control. For many men, no treatment may be necessary. When treatment is necessary, the aim is to cure or control the disease so it affects everyday life as little as possible and does not shorten life expectancy.
But different treatments can have negative side effects that impact differently on men’s lives, such as sexual function, urinary incontinence and change in bowel habits.
Until recently, the information men received when facing a new prostate cancer diagnosis could vary – now they can access this information directly themselves based on current national guideline recommendations.
Dr Christopher Scrase, Macmillan Clinical Lead for Cancer in Suffolk and North East Essex, said:
“Prostate cancer is a disease that often leads to choices in treatment, which is great in many ways but this can present challenges for patients and healthcare professionals. For patients it’s how to arrive at their preferred option with enough information to make a meaningful decision and for the healthcare professional, how to present information in an appropriately comprehensive and understandable way where the messaging is consistent. The decision-making tool for prostate cancer which has been pioneered in the East of England Cancer Alliances, integrated into those important shared decision-making conversations, is to be commended. As a vehicle to help with those challenges, I would strongly encourage colleagues to use it in their everyday practice.”
Dr Petrosian Veersamy, Consultant in Clinical Oncology at Milton Keynes University Hospital, said:
“Patients newly diagnosed with prostate cancer can face the difficult task of having to navigate the often multiple treatment options available to them. This online tool has been designed to offer patients the opportunity to better understand their diagnosis, and the risks and benefits of their therapeutic options. The platform is informative and user friendly, offering scientifically accurate information. Patients have received the tool well, and it is now a permanent addition to my new patient consultations.”
Consultant oncologist Professor Peter Hoskin, Clinical Director for the East of England Cancer Alliance (South), said:
“We know that where patients receive inconsistent information it can lead to differences in the rates of both under-treatment and over-treatment in men with non-metastatic primary prostate cancer. This new, web-based tool is a fantastic step forward as it provides latest information, tailored to each individual’s test results. The patient can be confident they have all the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their care and treatment.”
Dr Linda Hunter is Associate Medical Director at Norwich and Norfolk University Hospitals and Clinical Director for the East of England Cancer Alliance (North). She said:
“I am delighted that the East of England Cancer Alliances have led this ground-breaking work to address the need for a standardised decision aid – an independent source of evidence-based information, which will inform and enhance discussions between the patient and their care team at what can be a worrying time, following diagnosis. The webtool is configured so that men can look at this with their health care provider in clinics, over the phone or by themselves with family when deciding what to do. They only need to be provided with their basic clinical results to be able to use it online.”
The new resource for patients is in line with ambitions set out in the east of England’s five-year cancer strategy published recently: East of England Cancer Strategy.
Web access is online at: Prostate cancer: knowing your options.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK and is most common in older men. On average each year 35 out of 100 new cases are in men aged 75 and over.
It is more common in black men than in white men. A man’s risk of developing prostate cancer depends on many factors. These include:
- Genetics and family history
- Lifestyle factors
- Other medical conditions
Statistics from Cancer Research UK suggest that more than 95% of prostate cancer patients will survive their cancer for one year or more; more than 85% will survive their cancer for five years or more, and almost 80% will survive their cancer for 10 years or more.
For more information see Prostate cancer | Cancer Research UK or Prostate cancer – NHS.uk.